Back when Jocelyne and Monique Lamoureux were children playing hockey on the English Coulee with their four older brothers, a setting where they dreamed big, they couldn't have conjured up a scene so perfect.
Yet there they were in PyeongChang, South Korea, in 2018. Olympic gold medals hung around their necks. Jocelyne whipped around the ice carrying an American flag from the U.S. Capitol. They celebrated with their teammates after delivering the U.S. its first gold in women's hockey since 1998, when they were 8 years old watching their role models do it.
Playing rival Canada, which stood in the way of the Lamoureux twins winning gold in 2010 in Vancouver and again in 2014 in Sochi, Monique scored the game-tying goal in the third period. Then, Jocelyne scored the game-winner in the shootout with a dazzling move that will long live in USA Hockey history.
Their parents, Linda and Pierre, were in the stands to see it. So were their husbands, Brent Davidson and Anthony Morando.
As it turns out, that was the storybook ending for the two most decorated Olympians in the state of North Dakota's history.
The 31-year-old twin sisters from Grand Forks have decided they will not pursue any more World Championships or Olympic Games. They are retiring from their playing career after a combined 14 World Championship and six Olympic medals.
"Hockey has been a huge part of our lives," Monique said. "We've been part of the national team program since we were 16, 17 years old. Half of our lives have been dedicated to USA Hockey and being the best athletes we can be. Closing that chapter isn't an easy decision to come to.
"But in reflecting on all the events that have happened in the last year and a half, we asked ourselves, 'Where do we want to prioritize our time? How do we want to spend time moving forward?' We're ready to put more time in other aspects of our lives. It's not an easy decision to come to, but it's the right time for us."
The Lamoureux twins will go down among the best athletes the state has ever produced.
They're the only born-and-raised North Dakotans to win multiple Olympic medals. They have three: silvers from 2010 and 2014 and gold from 2018. Only three players in U.S. women's hockey history have more medals: Angela Ruggiero, Jenny Potter and Julie Chu (four).
Prior to PyeongChang in 2018, no North Dakotan had ever won an Olympic gold medal in any sport.
"Three states didn't have an Olympic gold medalist," Monique said. "North Dakota was one of them. We kept joking that we're going to cross the state off the list. We joked about it then, but to think we're the first in the state of North Dakota, it's pretty cool. When you look back at our careers, we always had the support of the Grand Forks community and different people who played a role to help us get to where we are."
The Lamoureux twins, who first appeared in the Herald for winning a squirt tournament with the Grand Forks Supras boys team at age 10, took an unconventional path to become two of the world's best players.
They played prep hockey for Gordie Stafford at Shattuck-St. Mary's and spent one year at the University of Minnesota before stunning the hockey world by transferring away from the national powerhouse to an up-and-coming UND program. In three years, they turned UND into one of the best teams in the country, earning back-to-back NCAA appearances.
Jocelyne set the Western Collegiate Hockey Association's all-time scoring record with 285 points. Monique tallied 265 career points, playing more than half of her college career at defense.
The international stage
On the international stage, they continually showed they're among the world's best.
They won seven World Championship medals, six golds.
At the 2012 Worlds, Monique tallied 14 points in the tournament. To this day, that's the highest point total of any American since 1990.
In 2015, Jocelyne finished second in the tournament in goals. Monique, who moved to defense, tallied more points than any blue liner and was named to the all-tournament team. In 2016, Jocelyne finished second in scoring, one point off the lead, while Monique again led all defensemen in points and was named to the all-tournament team. In 2017, Monique again was on the all-tournament team as a defenseman.
Those performances at the Worlds led into the 2018 Olympics, where they starred for the Americans.
Despite playing limited minutes, Jocelyne led the Americans in both goals (four) and points (five). Monique finished third in both categories.
Only five U.S. players have tallied more career Olympic points than the Lamoureux twins -- Potter, Natalie Darwitz, Katie King, Cammi Granato and Hilary Knight. All but Knight played all under the old Olympic format, which allowed for more games against overmatched teams.
They each hold active U.S. Olympic records.
Monique is the record-holder for most assists in a game (four). She did that in 2010 in Vancouver. Jocelyne holds the record for the fastest consecutive goals. She scored two goals in six seconds in 2018.
Fighting for equality
Looking back on their careers, there are two off-the-ice moves that stand out to the Lamoureux twins.
In 2017, a year before the Olympics, they threatened to boycott the World Championships along with their teammates unless USA Hockey agreed to terms with the players, including better pay and equality with the men's national teams in other areas.
"That really opened our eyes to the difference we can make, not just in the sport of hockey but in the community and be a voice for positive change," Jocelyne said. "That's one of the reasons we started our foundation. That's important to us."
They became the first players to use the new maternity benefits after Jocelyne and her husband, Brent, had a son, Nelson, and Monique and her husband, Anthony, had a son, Mickey.
The Lamoureux twins also said they're proud of how they were able to elevate the UND women's program, even though it was eliminated in 2017. They're hoping the program comes back some day.
"If there's something we can do in the sport of hockey to be a part of a positive resolution to bring back a Division-I team to the state of North Dakota, if there's a way to rectify that for the young girls who want to play hockey in the state of North Dakota and regionally and internationally, we want to be a part of that," Jocelyne said.
Coming to a decision
After the PyeongChang Games, the Lamoureux twins left the door open to playing in another Olympics.
But a series of events in the last year changed their minds.
In early February of 2020, they were with Team USA when their grandmother passed away. They left the team to be at her funeral. But at 6 a.m. the morning after the funeral, they had to be on a flight to Anaheim, Calif., where they were set to play in a Rivalry Series game against Canada.
They played that night in front of the largest crowd to watch a women's hockey game inside the United States, and the Americans won in overtime. But the Lamoureux twins wanted to be with family.
"That was the first time in our careers where we were thinking we should be somewhere else," Jocelyne said. "We've missed weddings, funerals and different occasions in our lives. We've never felt like we've missed out. But that was a tough time. We were also away from our boys for two weeks, and it was a time for us to think about how we want to spend our time."
About a month later, the country shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Lamoureux twins used that time to write their book, 'Dare to Make History: Chasing a Dream and Fighting for Equity,' which comes out later this month.
"We were wanting to spend more time and effort in other areas of our lives," Jocelyne said. "We really haven't had the time because of our hockey careers."
The Lamoureux twins, who live and work in Grand Forks, still plan to be busy.
Their book comes out later this month. There will likely be events surrounding that. They're also planning to put in more work with the Monique and Jocelyne Lamoureux Foundation.
Monique and Anthony are expecting their second son in a few weeks, too.
"I think with hockey, our lives have been so planned and regimented," Monique said. "It's kind of a breath of fresh air. We're in the process of figuring out what the next stage of our lives are going to look like."
The hockey playing stage is over now, after a perfect ending in PyeongChang.
"The other day, Brent said, 'Thank God you guys won or I don't think you could make this decision right now,'" Jocelyne said. "We accomplished our childhood dream. We played a significant role in the tournament, not just the gold-medal game. We're really proud of how we played and dealt with adversity in that season. Going out on top the way we did in 2018 definitely makes it easier. We've given it our all."