Olympic gold medalists Jocelyne and Monique Lamoureux visited the Bloomfield Project Power Play dek to help put on a clinic for a group of female veterans on Wednesday evening.
The women were there with the Veterans Leadership Program (VLP), who hopes to create a female veterans' dek hockey team to compete and play in the city of Pittsburgh as a bonding experience amongst the different branches of the military.
"Not only just having the twins here, but them actually being able to coach and train women veterans who have a real strong love of hockey and want to be able to play it and being able to do it right here in Bloomfield is fantastic," said Mayor Bill Peduto. "The Penguins helped to finance and build this beautiful dek hockey rink in the Paul J. Scuillo Memorial Park. When we think about what it was built for, this is the exact type of activity."
The Lamoureux twins came to Pittsburgh with Comcast as part of the company's Internet Essentials program, which provides Internet access to people in need. Comcast works with both the Penguins and the Veterans Leadership Program, and as Peduto said, partnership is the new leadership - which is what led to this event.
"When we first talked to the Penguins Foundation and Comcast about coming out, they said that the twins were coming and we knew that they were great at hockey," said Toshua Jarrett, a U.S. Army veteran who is the chief development officer with the VLP. "So we thought, 'Well, not all of us can ice skate, but we can run because of the military and our PT tests.' So we thought dek hockey would be the happy medium between the two of them."
The veterans certainly couldn't have asked for better teachers in the Lamoureux twins, two of the best female hockey players in the world and longtime members of the U.S. Women's National Team.
Jocelyne and Monique memorably helped Team USA win gold in the 2018 Winter Olympics. They were both instrumental in helping the United States win its first gold medal in 20 years with a 3-2 victory against archrival Canada. Monique scored the game-tying goal late in the third period to force overtime, while Jocelyne scored the game-winning goal in the shootout.
Together, they have represented Team USA at two additional Olympic Winter Games (capturing silver in both), seven IIHF Women's World Championships, 10 Four Nations Cups and various other international events.
"It was an awesome opportunity," Jarrett said. "We don't usually get to see celebrities and work with them. To see their skillsets and then for them to actually take time to teach us what we need to do was truly an honor."
The respect and admiration was completely mutual, especially with the Lamoureux twins representing Team USA for as long as they have and with one of their four brothers serving in the U.S. Air Force for almost 10 years now.
"For us, in our sport, there is no greater honor than to be able to represent your country at a World Championship and especially at an Olympics," Monique said. "It's something that we never take for granted, and it's always an honor and a privilege to wear that jersey. These women represented our country in a much more brave and courageous way than we ever could, so if we can come out here for a little while tonight and just spend some time with them, we're happy to do it."
During the clinic, the women were taught the basics, starting with stickhandling. One of the coaches asked if anyone had ever toe-dragged before, and Monique called out, "Jocelyne has!" - a nod to her 'Oops! I Did It Again' shootout move.
They then moved onto passing and shooting before splitting into teams for a scrimmage. Though many of the women had never played dek hockey before, they picked it up quickly.
"To see not just young girls picking it up, but women going and playing in a league at night and talking about how it's the first time they've ever played but having a blast, it's just really cool to see," Jocelyne said. "And to be out here on a night like tonight when it's nice outside, you don't necessarily want to be inside a cold rink. This is another way to stay involved in the game."
The event drove home an initiative that the Penguins, Penguins Foundation and NHL believe strongly in - that hockey is for everyone.
"It's not just for kids starting out when they're 3 or 4 - you can pick it up at any age," Monique said. "You can play on ice, you can play roller hockey, you can play dek hockey, whatever it is - it's for everyone."
Video: Lamoureux Twins Deck Hockey Clinic