Lamoureux twins’ retirement from hockey passes the torch to next generation

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It’s hard to believe Jocelyne and Monique Lamoureux were ever battling for ice time.

In 2006, when the twins were just 17 years old and ready to make their international debuts, they weren’t on the map as two of the best the game had ever seen.

That changed quickly.

“We were pretty ticked off we weren’t on the power play,” said Monique Lamoureux-Morando. “Us coming in as 17-year-olds playing with Hilary Knight and thinking we should have found the power play was pretty laughable.”

We’re a year from the 2022 Olympics and already three years since Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson’s “Oops, I did it again” shootout winner to give USA gold and forever change women’s hockey in the U.S.

A lot has happened in the sport since then; new faces have emerged, and the new generation of women’s hockey has unprecedented talent.

On Tuesday, the twins officially announced their retirement from hockey. It doesn’t come as a huge surprise; both are now mothers, and Monique has another child on the way as well.

The twins, both 31, won two silvers and one gold in their three Olympics, their best performance coming in the 2018 gold medal game to topple long-time rival Canada. Lamoureux-Morando sent it to overtime and Lamoureux-Davidson won it in the shootout.

[MORE: Remembering the ‘Oops, I Did It Again’ gold medal-winning goal]

It was the perfect way to cap off their stellar careers and open the door to the next generation, with an expectation; this is a gold medal program.

They spent plenty of time on Tuesday reflecting on stellar careers — with a reminder how Monique was the only player ever to be named an All Star as a defender and forward in IIHF Women’s World Championship history — but also on the new shape the sport is taken, and how it can continue to flourish outside North America.

“Finland is up and coming,” said Lamoureux-Davidson. “They almost won worlds last year after a questionable call and beat the U.S. team. That’s been excited to see. There’s drop-offs with other teams, so the bigger question at play is how are governing bodies supporting their national women’s teams, and not just in an Olympic year.”

Both Lamoureuxs have seen the developments in Finland, Russia, Sweden and others take shape since they began with USA Hockey in 2006. Both advocates for the sport at home and abroad, their work — including Jocelyne’s advocacy of the PWHPA — has helped lift women’s players in USA Hockey.

They were both a part of the boycott and negotiations to create a more sustainable product within USA Hockey for women, including more opportunities for young players and for when it’s not an Olympic cycle.

There’s hope that happens internationally as well, and the more recent U18 models can create even better competition in the sport.

“Russia has gotten a lot better since we played them in our first worlds in 2009,” said Lamoureux-Davidson. “I think overall the competition has gotten better, but I also think there’s a generation of players who played in that U18 world championship that will now start to see the progress of that creating more grassroot programs in different countries to support players playing through their lives…. That takes a generation, it doesn’t happen overnight.”

The North American teams have continued to get better; there’s arguably more talent than ever before, and even without the Lamoureuxs, it’s tough to see Team USA skipping a beat with all that young talent.

Having a stage for that talent to compete against other greats from another part of the world is something Lamoureux-Davidson is hoping to see more of in the future.

“Hopefully we start to see more great players coming up in Europe,” said Lamoureux-Davidson. “I think Alina Mueller of Switzerland, she’s an amazing player, she’s 19 now, plays at Northeastern, players like that, we’re going to start to see great European players.”

The Lamoureuxs have served as spokespeople for U.S. women’s hockey players for more than a decade. They were leaders in the would-have-been boycott in the battle for gender equity in USA Hockey, and now Jocelyne is part of the PWHPA board looking for better conditions for professional women’s hockey players.

Even while they won’t be on the ice again, that mission is far from over.

“We didn’t have an opportunity to play on girls teams growing up,” said Lamoureux-Davidson. “I would say in 2010, everybody but one player on our team had to play on boys teams growing up. In 2018 you take that same poll and I would say its half and half. I would say that speaks to the opportunities that girls have today…. At the grassroots level, it’s changing, and when you win a gold medal on that stage and how important the Olympics are to the United States, I think that’s always been important.”

Lamoureux-Morando finished her career with 62 goals and 81 assists for 143 points in 135 games. Lamoureux-Davidson finished with 63 goals and 75 assists for 138 points in 137 games.

Those are Hall of Fame numbers in their own right, but what won’t be recorded is their impact on the game as a whole. Maybe we won’t fully see that for years to come as more girls and women thrive in the sport on the biggest stages, all over the world.

Marisa Ingemi is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop her a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow her on Twitter @Marisa_Ingemi.