A program that breeds champions
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“Young girls cannot become what they cannot see.”
Monique Lamoureux-Morando and Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson wrote these words in a letter to UND President Mark Kennedy pushing for the administration to reconsider their position on cutting the UND women’s hockey program.
The statement is a strong one from the twin sisters, who were star hockey players at UND and now members of the U.S. National and Olympics teams. They said: “We ask that you reconsider your decision and keep the dreams of young girls around the world who dream of playing in the Olympics and will use UND as an avenue to get there.”
The Lamoureux twins, natives of Grand Forks, have been role models to young girl hockey players not just in North Dakota, but everywhere. They are also largely responsible for taking the women’s hockey program at UND to new heights, after transferring from the University of Minnesota in 2010.
At the time of the transfer, Lamoureux-Morando said in an interview with USCHO: “We thought by transferring back home that it was an opportunity to kind of put the Fighting Sioux on the map. We saw it as a challenge and an opportunity for us to really put a stamp on the program.”
The Lamoureux twins did just that, which is why the cutting of the program is hard to believe.
“It’s heartbreaking,” Lamoureux-Davidson said. “The president said he wanted national championships. It was in the future for UND women’s hockey. To have this happen with the growing success they were having and the Olympians they’ve had is just really unfortunate.”
Lamoureux-Davidson is not wrong. UND has established itself as one of the premier women’s hockey programs in the country, making drastic improvements throughout its’ 15-year life as a program.
Prior to the Lamoureuxs’ arrival to Grand Forks, UND had gotten off to a rough start in their time as a college hockey program. Since 2002, the club’s first season, they boasted a 70-176-25 record, including a 3-31-3 season in 2006-07 that marked the end of head coach Shantel Rivard’s tenure with the team.
After the twins arrived, UND turned into one of the most well known women’s hockey programs, making their first NCAA tournament appearance in 2012, as well as their second, just one year later. Although UND lost in the first round of both tournaments, the Lamoureux sisters helped take UND to a place they had never been before in their junior and senior seasons.
From there, UND consistently placed itself in the top four of the WCHA and has compiled a record of 144-89-25 dating back to the 2010-11 season, quite the turnaround from the club’s first eight seasons.
Under head coach Brian Idalski, who was hired to replace Rivard in 2007, the team has not had a losing season since 2009-10 and has attracted some of the world’s finest talent, thanks in large part to the Lamoureuxs’.
Yet, if you ask the Lamoureux twins why they transferred from the top-notch Golden Gophers to the Fighting Sioux, Idalski is a big reason for it.
“Coming back here was a special opportunity for us,” Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson said. “Knowing where coach Idalski wanted to take this program, we felt like we could play a big part in the turnaround.”
Idalski brought a winning culture and vision to a program that had grown accustomed to losing. That vision sold the Lamoureux’, as well as other top recruits in years to come.
In a community known for success in men’s hockey, Idalski was able to make a name for women’s hockey at UND. In his 10 seasons at UND, Idalski posts a 169-156-39 record. In 15 seasons as a head coach, he has a 277-177-50 record.
Associate head coach Peter Elander has played a large role in UND’s success in his seven seasons with the team as well. He boasts an impressive resume that includes being the head coach of Team Sweden for three Olympics, leading them to a bronze in 2002 and silver in 2006
This is evident by UND’s recent exposure on national and Olympic teams. In the last Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, nine former and current players played for either Finland, Germany or the United States.
This includes the Lamoureuxs’ winning a silver medal with the U.S. in 2014 and three current players in Emma Nuutinen, Vilma Tanskanen and Anna Kilponen making appearances with the Finnish National team.
Additionally, the Lamoureuxs’ have taken part in two U.S. Olympic teams and are heading towards a third in 2018. UND alumnae Susanne Fellner and Michelle Karvinen have also participated in two Olympics for Finland.
In 2018, UND could have as many as 12 former players on Olympic rosters from four different countries, an impressive feat for a young program of 15 years.
In total, UND has had 26 players play for national teams, showing that UND has attracted and developed the world’s top players.
While the cuts are expected to take place at the end of the academic year, the women’s hockey team is campaigning to keep the program around.
Most recently, a photograph of a player wearing a shirt saying, “Never end the fight,” has made its way around social media accompanied by #NeverEndTheFight. The team also released a statement saying: “We will continue our fight for future generations of women to play the sports we love.”
That being said, UND administration has been adamant that nothing can be done to save the women’s hockey team, an unfortunate outcome for a team that has shown drastic improvement and success over the years.
Nevertheless, the spotlight is shining on this program now more than ever to see what steps they will take to bring back the beloved team. The support has been flooding in from all over the world and the future of women’s hockey could forever be affected by the results.
Jake Andersen is a staff writer for Dakota Student. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org