SCHENECTADY — Ross LaDue made a reactive sound he had never made before.
That’s because he saw Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson make a move he had never seen before.
It wasn’t for lack of opportunity.
Lamoureux-Davidson scored the game-winning shootout goal as Team USA beat Canada for the women’s hockey gold medal in the wee hours of Thursday morning Eastern time. She did so with a flurry of slick moves that were worth their weight in social media gold alone, but also gloriously ended a personal 12-year quest by the Americans to beat their nemeses from north of the border.
LaDue, Union College’s men’s hockey sports information director, came to the school last August after four years as the women’s hockey SID at the University of North Dakota. While there, he donned goalie pads and mask to serve as target practice for Lamoureux-Davidson and her twin sister, Monique Lamoureux-Morando, who scored the game-tying goal on Thursday with just over six minutes left in regulation.
After the game, LaDue tweeted “Now I really don’t feel bad when I helped practice in goal and had @JocelyneUSA17 make me look stupid,” attached to a clip that was well into seven-digit views on various video platforms by Thursday afternoon.
Like everyone else, he’s still marveling at the level of skill Lamoureux-Davidson put on display, as she faked with the forehand, slid the puck left to her backhand and made the long reach to get it back on her forehand to neatly tuck it past the sprawled Canadian goalie Shannon Szabados.
— Ross LaDue (@rladue) February 22, 2018
“I, personally, never saw that from her, but I knew she had that in her, that kind of creativity, so Jocelyne would definitely have been one of my top three picks for a shootout person for Team USA,” LaDue said. “So to see her do that was no surprise.
“And she said after the game that she’s been working on that, so that just shows her work ethic, day in and day out, working on little things like that.”
In fact, Lamoureux-Davidson gave credit to her skills coach Peter Elander, a former associate head coach at North Dakota now at Ohio State, after the UND women’s program was discontinued after last season. During the postgame interview, Monique revealed that her sister had worked on it with Elander during workouts and dubbed the puck-dangling move “Oops, I Did It Again” while they remained in Grand Forks after graduating to pursue their Olympic dream.
On Twitter, ESPN’s John Buccigross coronated Lamoureux-Davidson “The Queen of Danglekota.”
Besides the Lamoureux twins, LaDue has been on the ice for drills with five members of Team Finland, Johanna Fallman of Team Sweden and Tanja Eisenschmid of Team Germany while they were all at North Dakota.
Before that, he spent two years working with the University of Wisconsin women’s team, where he skated with the likes of Hilary Knight, Brianna Decker, Megan Duggan, Alex Rigsby and Erika Lawler of Team USA, and Blayre Turnbull of Team Canada.
Having seen the American women toil behind the scenes while holding down full-time jobs, scraping together sponsorships and grabbing whatever ice time is available for years — while settling for silver medals to Canada in 2010 and 2014 — LaDue can appreciate what Thursday’s result means to them.
“They’re fantastic players,” he said of the Lamoureux twins. “It would just be the two of them and a coach, and me in net. They would just run through drills for a couple hours, and it would be kind of exhausting. It was just shooting drills, but they worked tirelessly, and you could tell what high-caliber athletes they are.
“It’s not just the year buildup. It’s been 12 years in the making. It’s been 12 years of them hunting gold.”
A California native who moved to Iowa to, in part, find a more competitive level of high school hockey, LaDue said that, even as a fellow goalie, he still wasn’t feeling sorry for Szabados.
“Not too much empathy, since Canada had won the last [four] gold medals,” he said with a grin. “From a goalie’s standpoint, a good goal is a good goal. There’s not much you can do about it.”