Wareham’s ties to North Dakota hockey remain strong
© Times-Herald photo by Matthew Gourlie
Dakota Boutin, left, from the Moose Jaw Generals tries to out-race Brock Montgomery from the North Dakota Selects in exhibition hockey action Sunday afternoon at Mosaic Place.
A rash of pitching injuries to a college baseball team in 1998 indirectly led to the North Dakota Selects travelling to Moose Jaw to play hockey this past weekend.
The Moose Jaw Generals beat their North Dakota guests 6-1 Saturday and 4-0 Sunday. It was the Generals final exhibition game before they travel to open the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League season Saturday in Prince Albert.
Generals head coach Ray Wareham has been back in Moose Jaw for more than a decade. However, before he took over the midget AAA program that he played for, he was coaching bantam hockey in Grand Forks, N.D. He had headed south to coach baseball and to attend Mayville State University, but he ended up on the mound.
“I ended up pitching in my first year down there. I was the pitching coach and then we had some injuries and I actually ended up playing,” said Wareham. “I went 4-0 or something and then they did this big article about me (in the Grand Forks Herald) about how all the guys called me ‘grandpa’ because I was a 29-year-old freshman.
“They had my history (in the story) from my playing days and some of my hockey coaching and these guys who were starting a bantam AAA team called me out of the blue and asked if I would be interested in coaching. I met with them and I did it for the last three years I was there.”
Though it was a long time ago, the connections he made coaching hockey in North Dakota are still strong.
“I just loved it. I met a lot of great people and they treated me fantastic. It was three of the best years I had coaching,” added Wareham who has taken the Generals to Grand Forks for a tournament two years in a row. Former Generals captain Rhett Gardner will be heading there to play for the University of North Dakota in an upcoming season.
“We were actually looking to go down there to do something ... and they were willing to come up,” said Wareham. “So I set up two games for them with Regina and two games against us. We’re always looking to do something different and play different teams.”
The Selects team is a new program that came out of The Hockey Academy that is run in UND’s state of the art Ralph Engelstad Arena. The players mostly hail from Grand Forks and East Grand Forks, Minn., which is across the Red River. The team also has players from Fargo and Devil’s Lake — both more than an hour away — who come in to practice every day, plus two players from Bismarck.
“Their high school season is very short. They only play 23 games throughout the year,” said Selects assistant coach Ryan LaDouceur. “It’s something to supplement their high school season: more games, more ice touches early in the year. It allows them to extend their seasons a little.”
The Selects season will conclude with their home tournament at the end of October, which the Generals will attend, before the players move on to their high school teams.
The UND hockey program is the biggest sports team in the state. After not having any North Dakota products on the team a year ago, they have three freshman for the coming NCAA season including Anaheim Ducks third round pick Keaton Thompson.
“Seeing local kids playing for the college is good for those younger kids so they know that they can reach that goal,” said LaDouceur. “There was a lot of success last year as far as players from North Dakota playing junior hockey. The University of North Dakota has three local kids who will play for them this year. Which is a pretty big number. They year before was the first time they didn’t have a local high school kid playing for the college in awhile.”
Some of Wareham’s former pupils were able to make the jump to UND, but the two biggest names from that bantam boys team are both women.
Twin sisters Jocelyne Lamoureux and Monique Lamoureux-Kolls both played for Wareham’s team and both were part of the United States’ silver medal winning team at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
Brothers Pierre-Paul, Mario and Jacques Lamoureux also played for Wareham.
“The two girls both practiced with us and played for me. They were 12 years old and were playing bantam boys hockey. At that time Jocelyne was a goalie, so we used her as a goalie and Monique was a defenceman and she was more physical than any of the other kids I had,” said Wareham with a laugh.
“That’s how I met the Lamoureux family and I got pretty tight with them. They’re a fantastic family. They’re like family to me now. We’ve been to all of the kids’ weddings.”
Jacques was the captain of the Air Force hockey team, while Mario played for UND. Both played last season in the ECHL with the Ontario Reign. Pierre-Paul played 181 regular season games with the Red Deer Rebels after being drafted by the Moose Jaw Warriors.
“We just played exhibition games and tournaments. We had pretty good success the first year and so people wanted to come and play for us the next two years,” recalled Wareham whose team became the first American team to win the Billy Mosienko tournament in Winnipeg. “The kids were fantastic. They would do whatever I asked of them. They weren’t very talented, but they worked their tails off for me. I miss it.”
The Generals were too much for the visitors on the weekend, but Wareham lauded the Selects’ work ethic.
Grant Naherniak made 20 saves to earn the shutout in goal Sunday afternoon. Dakota Boutin scored twice for the Generals who also got goals from Caleb Riess and Shane Collins. Two of the Generals goals came on the power play.
The Generals are 8-0 this pre-season and Wareham felt their Saturday performance was their poorest so far.
The Selects lost to the Regina Pat Canadians Friday night and Saturday morning, but got off to a fast start Saturday night as Brandon Loven scored 2:36 into the game.
Donovan Neuls replied with a pair of goals and Bhody Magnusson also scored as the Generals took a 3-1 lead after a period.
Rykr Cole, Jared Legien and Braydon Delorme also scored for Moose Jaw.
Colby Entz made 39 saves in goal for the Generals, while Holden Kurtz made 37 saves in net for the Selects.
“We’re trying to get as many games as we can,” said LaDouceur. “It’s great to come up here to these towns that have some storied traditions.”