Monique Lamoureux is sitting in a Grand Forks, N.D., pub, checking out a brawl. It's not a bar fight, though it feels like one.
Lamoureux is actually watching herself, on ESPN's SportsCenter, punch a Canadian. A few hours earlier, Lamoureux and her twin sister Jocelyne, forwards on the U.S. Olympic women's hockey team, were on the ice during the final seconds of Team USA's Dec. 20 exhibition win over Canada. Jocelyne, ticked that Canada's Brianne Jenner had thrown an elbow at a teammate, pummeled Jenner into the boards a penalty, since there's no checking in women's hockey. The Canadian players took exception, sparking a melee. Monique tossed haymakers; Jocelyne tackled a northern neighbor to the ice. The Rocky theme blared in the arena.
In the pub, Monique, a Grand Forks native surrounded by friends, family and teammates during a postgame celebration, put her hand over her mouth, shocked and delighted by what she was seeing. Women's hockey was actually on SportsCenter, alongside NBA and NFL highlights. She was seeing herself on ESPN for the first time so cool.
At the Sochi Olympics or in all of sports, actually you'll find no fiercer rivalry than USA-Canada in women's hockey. The men have their marquee names, their millions, their NHL teams and their pursuit of the Stanley Cup to work for. But for the women, who typically earn little playing pro hockey, the Olympics are everything. They're the only possible meal ticket. Such high stakes create rare intensity.