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WOMEN'S HOCKEY: No twins, but UND still eager for season

When the UND women's hockey team opens its season tonight, there will be no Jocelyne and Monique Lamoureux on the ice. That doesn't mean coach Brian Idalski is dreading this season. Quite the contrary actually. Idalski, while acknowledging that t...

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When the UND women's hockey team opens its season tonight, there will be no Jocelyne and Monique Lamoureux on the ice.

That doesn't mean coach Brian Idalski is dreading this season. Quite the contrary actually.

Idalski, while acknowledging that the program will never be able to replace the Lamoureux twins, believes that his program has been built up enough to survive the graduation of the Olympians.

"I really like this group talent-wise," Idalski said. "We are deeper than we've ever been at every position across the board. We may be young in some areas, but we are more athletic, talented and bigger than we've ever been. It's going to take us a little bit to figure some things out personnel-wise, but I'm pretty excited to get going. I think this group has a lot of potential."

UND feels it has a solid top-six forwards, led by Olympic Michelle Karvinen and junior forward Josefine Jakobsen. On the back end, the top defensive pairing of Tanja Eisenschmid and Halli Krzyzaniak will set the pace.

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The players on the third and fourth lines are still battling for spots, though.

"I like our top two lines," Idalski said. "I think that's pretty solidified. We're really just evaluating that next group of six or seven kids."

UND won't be starting the season at full strength.

Dynamic forward Leah Jensen of East Grand Forks is expected to be out until Christmas with an injury. Defensemen Sam Hanson and Sam LaShomb both were held out of UND's exhibition game against the Pursuit of Excellence last week, but could return to the lineup this weekend against Lindenwood.

Jensen missed most of last season with injury, too.

"We're going to be ultra patient with her," Idalski said. "People got a small glimpse of how dynamic she was when she was healthy. We're going to error on the side of making sure she's 100 percent ready to go."

Jensen could be making her return to the lineup at about the time UND will lose a handful of players to the Olympics, including Karvinen.

"That could be good timing," Idalski said. "She can really step up and play a key role for us going into the second half and the playoffs. It will be like getting a player at the trading deadline."

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Idalski said he will manage the minutes of his rookies, especially on defense, so they won't be tired come playoff time.

And if he can get solid contributions from the third and fourth lines, UND could be tough to beat.

"It's a young group," Idalski said. "The talent is there, though. There are going to be ups and downs and some growing pains along the way. But on any given day, one of them could be leading the charge."

Call Schlossman at (701) 780-1129; (800) 477-6572, ext. 1129; or send e-mail to bschlossman@gfherald.com .

Schlossman has covered college hockey for the Grand Forks Herald since 2005. He has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the top beat writer for the Herald's circulation division four times and the North Dakota sportswriter of the year once. He resides in Grand Forks. Reach him at bschlossman@gfherald.com.
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