Monique and Jocelyne Lamoureux have the looks, the smiles and the down-to-earth nature to become America's latest Winter Olympic sweethearts, but they're not interested in all that.
The United States women's hockey team's twin enforcers from North Dakota have come to Sochi focused on winning gold medals rather than friends and to avenge a painful defeat from four years ago. And, in all probability, to fight.
"We don't go looking for fights, but stuff happens and we will be ready for it," said Monique Lamoureux in a telephone interview with Yahoo Sports. "I take pride in the fact that my teammates know that I'm going to stick up for them and I'm going to do what I have to do to protect them. If that means fighting, it means fighting."
The U.S. and Canada, the 2010 Olympic gold medal winner, are locked in a rivalry that has already blown up into major fights in two exhibition games. It would be no shock to see fireworks and fisticuffs when they meet in pool play at the Shayba Arena in Sochi on Feb. 12.
Things got nasty in October, with fights involving several players erupting during Canada's 3-2 victory in Burlington, Vt., and again as the Americans won 4-1 in Grand Forks, N.D., just before Christmas. The Lamoureuxs were at the center of the action on both occasions. In the first incident, Jocelyne came to Monique's aid after Monique had clashed with Canadian defender Courtney Birchard.
Two months later, Jocelyne took exception to a big hit on teammate Josephine Pucci, and responded by leveling Canada's Brianne Jenner – with hostilities erupting as a result. Jocelyne doesn't even call them fights, describing the incidents as 'two little brawls."
"In the past, the U.S. team didn't really stick up for ourselves," Jocelyne said. "Now, when push comes to shove, we'll play whatever way we have to to win. We really grew up around the mentality of the men's game, the unwritten rules that hockey has.
"We were told to be the players that everyone hates to play against, but they all want you on your team. We catch a little bit of heat for playing on the line too much, but Monique and I aren't making any dirty plays."
Hockey players are a tough breed by their very nature. Off the ice the Lamoureux twins could not be more polite, engaging and cheerful; just don't mess with them when it comes to hockey.
The pair are dearly beloved in their native North Dakota, where they grew up in a hockey family. Their father, Pierre, was a goalie on two North Dakota national title teams in the early '80s and the twins have four older brothers who have all played at the collegiate level or higher.
[Related: U.S. sends seven sets of siblings to Sochi]
After spending their freshman year at archrival Minnesota, Monique and Jocelyne returned "home" to play for North Dakota for their remaining eligibility. But their real hockey education came at a young age.
"At a street hockey game or pond hockey game it always ended with [brother] Jean-Philippe [now a pro goaltender in Austria] or [brother] Pierre-Paul elbowing someone in the face," Jocelyne laughed. "It always ended with someone crying. Monique and I definitely had our fair share of getting whacked and bumped around but they toughened us up."
Even their mom, Linda, a former swimmer at North Dakota, understands the need for physical play when the time is right.
"They both go at it," said Linda Lamoureux. "They are very strong and tough girls and they can handle it. In a team game, it is about sticking up for your teammates and they have been doing that since they were little."