UND Follows Captain's Lead Into Hockey PlayoffsGRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) — Senior captain and hometown favorite Mario Lamoureux has played a limited scoring role in his career with the University of North Dakota hockey team, but the gritty center seems to have a flair for momentous occasions.
By: Dave Kolpack, Associated Press
GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) — Senior captain and hometown favorite Mario Lamoureux has played a limited scoring role in his career with the University of North Dakota hockey team, but the gritty center seems to have a flair for momentous occasions.
His first career short-handed goal opened the scoring last year in the regional championship and propelled UND over Denver for a berth in the NCAA Frozen Four.
His game-winning goal earlier this year against Bemidji State was his only goal of the regular season, but it happened to be the 10,000th goal in the history of the UND hockey program.
He scored two goals last week to spark a come-from-behind win against rival Minnesota in the semifinals of the conference tournament, a victory viewed as a confidence booster in the team's postseason parade.
And UND is 14-0-0 over four years when Lamoureux scores a goal.
The 5-foot-9, 185-pound Lamoureux smiled earlier this week when asked if he had any goals left in his arsenal for this weekend's West Regional tournament, which opens Saturday with UND (25-12-3) taking on Western Michigan (21-13-6) at the Xcel Center in St. Paul.
"I'm hoping there's a couple in there," Lamoureux said. "I've been saving them for a good time. Hopefully I can pop a couple more in this weekend."
He quickly added he's not going to change his style of play, which coaches say has been marked by successful face-offs, strong defense, consistent effort, and most importantly, leadership. UND head coach Dave Hakstol, when asked to describe Lamoureux's contribution to the program, started by taking a deep breath.
"I'm trying to think how I can put it in a fairly short statement," Hakstol said.
The coach said Lamoureux has perfected his role as a mentor for other players.
"A lot of things haven't gone right for him this year. He's played injured, he hasn't gotten a lot of bounces, his stats aren't probably what he wants them to be," Hakstol said. "Yet he is playing the exact way he has to play to be successful."
Tarek Howard, a former UND defenseman and Lamoureux's high school coach, said UND coaches had Lamoureux pegged as a captain long before he enrolled in college. A regular on Grand Forks Central's varsity team as an eighth-grader, Lamoureux's first order of business was convincing his older teammates to tone down their over-the-top goal celebrations.
"It was the very first goal of the season. He said, you know what guys, why don't you act like you've done this before," Howard said. "He was remarkable. He just showed great leadership right from the beginning."
In a roller-coaster season that has UND down to just 17 skaters because of injuries, Lamoureux has melded a somewhat makeshift line that includes Joe Gleason, a defenseman by trade, and freshman Stephane Pattyn. Gleason jokes there's not a lot of "green light talent" on the line, but "Mario in the middle" makes the others better.
"He always does the right things. He always in the right place," Gleason said. "He might not look flashy or anything like that, but anyone on our team will tell you they would love to play with him on a line."
Lamoureux is part of a UND athletic legacy. His father, Pierre, played goalie in 1979-82 and was a member of two NCAA championship teams. His mother, Linda, was a standout swimmer for the college.
And then there are his siblings. Sisters Jocelyne and Monique are junior forwards at UND and won silver medals in the 2010 Winter Olympics. One brother, Jean-Phillippe, was a goaltender at UND from 2004-08. Another brother, Pierre-Paul, is a member of UND's coaching staff.
"He's really tuned into UND hockey history, about the program and what it's done, and how important it is to the family," Howard said. "I know Mario is very proud of that."
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.