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MEN'S HOCKEY: Tops in stops

Jean-Philippe Lamoureux was booed last season when he replaced Anthony Grieco midway through a December game. A year later, those boos have turned into cheers, sometimes standing ovations. And in the coming weeks, they may turn into chants of Hob...

Jean-Philippe Lamoureux was booed last season when he replaced Anthony Grieco midway through a December game.

A year later, those boos have turned into cheers, sometimes standing ovations. And in the coming weeks, they may turn into chants of Hobey Baker.

For the second straight season, an undrafted, undersized player from UND is putting together a campaign that has people across the country taking notice.

Ryan Duncan rode it all the way to St. Louis, where he became the school's second winner of the award last April.

Could the 5-foot-8, 152-pound Lamoureux do the same this season?

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"I haven't really thought about that," the UND senior said with a laugh. "I don't consider myself among that tier of players."

Lamoureux's numbers and teammates beg to differ.

Entering this weekend, the Grand Forks Central graduate is leading the country in both major goaltending categories - save percentage (.934) and goals-against average (1.73).

And those aren't the only impressive statistics Lamoureux has compiled this season. Lamoureux has:

-- Posted four shutouts in the first five games, becoming the first Western Collegiate Hockey Association player to achieve the feat.

-- Allowed just one goal in seven of the last eight games.

-- A save percentage that would rank as the best single-season mark in Sioux history, breaking Jordan Parise's .929 from two seasons ago.

-- A goals-against average that would be second-best in school history, trailing only Bob Peters' mark from the 1950s.

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And don't forget, he's accomplished all of this against the most difficult schedule in college hockey according to both the KRACH and PairWise ratings.

"No doubt, in my opinion he should be top three," Duncan said. "He's got as much of a chance to win it as any other goalie or player. He's been outstanding and he has the statistics to back it up. He's a great guy off the ice and in the locker room, too. So he's got all of the attributes to win Hobey Baker."

Iron man

Lamoureux has started 52 consecutive games, the longest active streak in college hockey. The next closest is Boston College's John Muse with 28.

Only two goaltenders in college hockey history have had longer streaks.

To find the last time Lamoureux didn't start a game, you have to go back to Dec. 16, 2006. In that game against Michigan Tech, Grieco was pulled midway through the second period and the reaction from Sioux fans toward Lamoureux was harsh.

At the time, Lamoureux was struggling to find his game, coming off of a high ankle sprain. But he closed that game strong and hasn't let up since.

Lamoureux has played 3,120 minutes and 35 seconds consecutively.

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"Phil took a lot of heat during the first half of his junior year," UND coach Dave Hakstol said. "The team wasn't performing. The results weren't there and a lot of that lands squarely on the starting goaltender."

Lamoureux closed last season with a .923 save percentage and 2.20 goals-against average in the final 25 games. He was named to the all-West Region team in leading the Sioux to the Frozen Four.

Still, that didn't convince everybody.

Nationally, many predicted UND to be one of the best teams in the country this season but wondered if goaltending would be a weakness.

"We've heard that all along," Duncan said. "We heard that last year when we made our run. People can say what they want, but they're not always right. People have opinions, but the opinion they had of Phil was wrong. Hopefully he's silenced his critics."

Hobey chances

Ten finalists for the Hobey Baker Award will be announced March 20 in Xcel Energy Center.

It's not unprecedented to have Hobey Baker winners from the same school in consecutive seasons. Minnesota-Duluth had back-to-back winners in 1984 and 1985 with Tom Kurvers and Bill Watson and Maine did it in 1992 and 1993 with Scott Pellerin and Paul Kariya.

But the committee hasn't been keen on goaltenders. Only two have ever won the award - Minnesota's Robb Stauber in 1988 and Michigan State's Ryan Miller in 2001.

Inside College Hockey ranked Lamoureux as the No. 3 contender this week for the award behind Michigan forward Kevin Porter and Boston College forward Nate Gerbe.

"I don't know why he's not getting more attention," CSTV college hockey announcer Ben Holden said in a chat this week. "I think he's got a great shot to be a finalist with a strong finish."

Lamoureux said he set a couple of goals for this season (he's not sharing what they are), but he hasn't accomplished them yet.

"The work is far from over," he said. "I have one big goal in mind. It's written on the wall in my room. I'm close, but I haven't quite achieved it yet."

With the help of a talented and veteran defensive corps, Lamoureux might accomplish everything he wanted to - and more.

"Your goaltender is only as good as the guys in front of him," Lamoureux said. "The guys in front of me have been consistent all year. I really have to tip my hat to them.

"To be honest with you, without those guys laying it on the line for me every night, I'm not going to have personal success."

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