Editor's note: This is the third installment of a series in which the Grand Forks Herald's veteran sports staff ranks their top five memorable games or events they've covered. Herald sports writer Brad Schlossman begins his list with his No. 5 memorable moment. See a full list at the bottom of this page.
It was the biggest game in UND women's hockey history at that point.
UND had never won a Western Collegiate Hockey Association playoff series. In fact, until two days earlier, it had never even won a single playoff game.
But on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011 -- in Year 9 of the program -- that chance arrived in Game 3 of a best-of-three series against Bemidji State.
To further illustrate where the program had been, the series was played in Purpur Arena because Ralph Engelstad Arena was booked with the North Dakota state boys and girls tournament and a UND men's series that shifted to Saturday-Sunday afternoon.
Prior to that weekend, UND and Ralph Engelstad Arena officials never had to ponder the possibility of UND hosting a first-round playoff series state hockey weekend, because it had never come close.
There was a big problem facing UND that night, though.
Superstar forward Jocelyne Lamoureux, who won an Olympic silver medal 12 months earlier, sustained a deep bone bruise on her right foot and was ruled out for Game 3.
I covered the UND-Bemidji State men's hockey game that afternoon in Ralph Engelstad Arena and saw Lamoureux in the concourse. She had a boot on her foot and could barely walk. Not only was she going to miss Game 3 that night, but if UND won, the next week seemed pretty out-of-the-question, too.
Jocelyne attended the game to support her brother, Mario, who was on the UND men's team. It was Senior Day for the men, and they won easily.
After the game, I did my interviews, grabbed my computer and drove straight to Purpur, filing my men's game story from there. Most of the UND game operations people also moved over to Purpur for the decisive Game 3.
Lamoureux decided, after watching the men's game, that she was going to try to play. Dr. William Mann re-evaluated her and told head coach Brian Idalski that if she plays, she's not going to make her injury worse. It's just going to be extremely painful.
Idalski gave her the go-ahead.
The team was already on the ice for warmups. Equipment manager Kevin Vaughan quickly dug out Lamoureux's uniform. She could barely get her right skate on, because it was so painful. But she did it and even managed to take a quick lap before warmups ended.
Word circulated up to the press box that Lamoureux was going to try to play, but it would likely be only on the power play and only to stand in the circle and hammer one-timers.
That wasn't the case. Although the injury had a noticeable impact on her skating and movement, Lamoureux not only managed to play the entire game, she had an improbably dominant performance. She fired a game-high 11 shots on goal and scored in the second period.
The game went into overtime and Jocelyne's twin sister, Monique, won it with a highlight-reel, coast-to-coast goal.
Bemidji State dumped the puck in the zone and UND goalie Stephanie Ney stopped it behind the net. Monique picked it up and immediately went into gear. Even with the puck 190 feet from her own net, you could tell she was going to try to make something happen.
I told the statistician next to me right as she gained speed in the defensive zone, "She's not passing."
Monique darted past a forechecker in the defensive zone, skated through space in the neutral zone, continued up the right wing in the offensive zone, faked a shot to drop a defenseman in the right circle, skated around the defender on the outside, arrived at the right side of the crease, moved the puck to her backhand on the top of the blue paint and scored on Olympic netminder Zuzana Tomcikova.
There were 700 people in Purpur Arena that night -- which is a great crowd in that building -- and they roared after the goal. The team piled up in the corner, celebrating a program-first trip to the WCHA Final Faceoff.
Idalski talked about Jocelyne's memorable game to the media: "What a performance, good lord. She may be one of the toughest kids, men or women, that I've ever played with or coached, hands down. That's amazing to me. I've played hurt. I don't know if I've ever seen somebody play that banged up and do that well, perform at that high of a level. I know I surely didn't. . . even when I was 100 percent for that matter. What a gutsy, gutsy way to lead our club."
That game ushered in a new era for the program.
The first eight years in program history, UND never reached the WCHA Final Faceoff. That game started a seven-year streak of UND reaching the Final Faceoff every year -- a run that lasted until the program was discontinued due to budget cuts in 2017.
For many reasons -- the program-first, Jocelyne's performance, Monique's highlight-reel winner, the setting in Purpur Arena and what it meant for the next few years of the program -- it was a memorable evening in Grand Forks.
Herald Top 5 memories
5. The night Jocelyne Lamoureux wasn't supposed to play