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UPDATE: Lamoureux twins take up fight to re-instate women's hockey program at UND

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Olympic silver medalists Monique, left, and Jocelyne Lamoureux, acknowledge the crowd as they are introduced during UND"s men's hockey game with Michigan Tech University Friday in Grand Forks. photo by Eric Hylden/Forum News Service
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GRAND FORKS -- The University of North Dakota’s  two most prominent women’s hockey players of all time -- two-time Olympic silver medalists Jocelyne and Monique Lamoureux -- sent a letter to UND President Mark Kennedy and athletic director Brian Faison asking that the UND program be reinstated.

The letter was signed by all members of the U.S. Women's National Team, which is currently competing in the IIHF Women's World Championship in Plymouth, Mich.

UND announced last week that it was cutting women’s hockey and men’s and women’s swimming and diving programs in order to address an anticipated loss of funding from the state.

Kennedy asked Faison to cut $1.3 million out of the athletic department budget.

The Lamoureux twins detailed how the cuttin g of women's hockey at UND will not only impact the current team, but also future players in the U.S. and Canada, the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, the NCAA and youth players in the region.

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The Lamoureux twins, who are expected to play in the Olympic Games in 10 months, also said they are willing to use their platform for their cause.

The Lamoureux twins were the lead of a front-page sports story in Sunday's New York Times.

The players also indicated that they are going to push back with a social media blitz, similar to the one used by the Lamoureux twins and the U.S. Women's National Team to secure higher wages from USA Hockey last month.

Current and former players began tweeting "It's not over. #neverendthefight" on Monday morning. "Never End The Fight" was recently one of the team's slogans and was put on the back of the team's workout shirts.

Here's the letter that the Lamoureux twins sent to Kennedy:
President Mark Kennedy,

As alumnae of the University of North Dakota, former players of the UND Women's Hockey team, and current members of the USA Women's National Team, we are disappointed in your decision to cut women's hockey at this University. After a historic day for women's hockey on March 28th where the U.S. Women's National Team won our fight for equitable support and fair funding from USA Hockey, women's hockey took a step back with the announcement of the elimination of UND Women's Hockey on March 29th.

This decision to cut the only NCAA women's hockey team in the state is detrimental to girls hockey, not only in North Dakota, but for the entire region (U.S. and Canada). Young girls cannot become what they cannot see. To take away the most visible platform for young players to dream of reaching in the state and region will have a generational effect on this sport.

To think this won't impact girls hockey in this region is simply naive. This will impact the WCHA, NCAA, and will send ripples across women's hockey globally. UND has nine current and former players competing right now in the 2017 Women's IIHF World Championships. UND has nine players that have competed in the Olympics. In the 2018 Olympics, UND could potentially have 12 players from four different countries competing on the world stage. To say this decision only affects the region would be an understatement. How rare is it to be able to turn on your TV every four years and watch Olympic athletes compete that also represent your University?

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As alumnae, we ask that you reconsider the position you have taken. We ask that you consider the impact this will have in the NCAA and the younger generation who dream of putting on their own green and white jersey. We ask that you reconsider your decision and keep the dreams of young girls around the world who dream of playing in the Olympics and will use UND as an avenue to get there.

Finally, we ask that you consider the impact WE as a national team have on women's hockey around the world and continue to support the Olympic level athletes that outnumber any other program in UND history.

Jocelyne and Monique Lamoureux

Kennedy responded to the Lamoureux twins on Monday afternoon via email. Kennedy’s response said:

Dear Jocelyne and Monique,

Thank you to you both and to your U.S. Women's Hockey teammates for your letter.

This has been a difficult decision for all involved. I understand the concern that this creates within the hockey community. It was a difficult recommendation to hear and to accept. I appreciate your sharing your thoughts and concerns with me.

I applaud you and your recent achievements. I want you to know that we are proud of the success you both have had at UND and continue to have on the national and world stage. You continue to be outstanding ambassadors for women's hockey.

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With best wishes,

Mark

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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