|J.P. Lamoureux (photo: Getty)|
Two is company and three is a crowd. But eight? That's far more than enough, at least as far as back-up goaltenders are concerned.
Yet that's how many masked men – for a whole list of reasons – played the second banana role last year to Portland Pirates No. 1 goalie Jhonas Enroth.
Seeking to stop (or at least slow) that revolving door, the Pirates and their NHL parent club, the Buffalo Sabres, made a point of finding young goalies who could provide real depth for the system, as well as give a little push to the returning Enroth.
That brings us to Jean-Philippe (or J.P., if you will) Lamoureux -- or rather, brings Lamoureux to Portland.
One of six siblings – all of them having competed in high-level hockey – Lamoureux,
as a rookie, was among the best goalies in the ECHL last year.
That caught the attention of the Sabres, who invited the former North Dakota star to their summer development camp, and then signed him for delivery to Portland.
“I just wanted to get into an organization,” said Lamoureux. “I personally believe I can play in the NHL, someday, and I know I have to take the proper steps to get to that level. The first order of business for me, is to be a real good No. 2 goalie in this league, and hopefully, push to be a No. 1 next season.”
Pirates coach Kevin Dineen, who got a good look at Lamoureux in development camp, believes that Lamoureux can carry the load on those occasions when Enroth is summoned to Buffalo. He did so a week ago, playing three straight (with one shutout) when Enroth went up to make his NHL debut.
“In talking to his coach (former Alaska Ace bench boss Keith McCambridge) and other coaches in (the ECHL),” said Dineen, “and I have a lot of respect for those guys, J.P. is the guy that we identified to be the best fit. He came to our development camp and performed very well. We're happy with the way he's played before.”
Lamoureux, 25, is the oldest and only goalie of the Lamoureux clan, whose father, Jean-Pierre, backstopped North Dakota to a pair of NCAA titles. He's the first of the bunch to make it to the pros.
Behind him are brothers Jacques (a forward at Air Force), Pierre-Paul (who played for Red Deer in the WHL) and Mario (North Dakota).
Then there are the twins, sisters Jocelyne and Monique, who were freshman sensations at the University of Minnesota, last year. The two have since transferred to North Dakota (where else?), but will spend this winter with the U.S. Olympic squad, and are all but certain to compete in Vancouver.
Hockey Mom of the Century? The clubhouse leader would have to be mother Linda, who, by the way, has run over 20 marathons.
“We're all proud of where we came from,” Lamoureux said. “The way we were brought up, with two outstanding parents who taught us good values, work ethic and accountability in your actions. Certainly, we all carry ourselves that way.”
Around the AHL
It was a heck of a week for the Worcester Sharks, and not in any good sense of the word. The Sharks played five games in an eight-day span and lost them all in regulation. Making matters worse, the last four of those setbacks were handed them by Atlantic Division rivals, greasing the skids for a standings slide from one point out of first place to two points away from sixth. … Two of the Worcester losses came to Lowell, which has tied a Devils franchise mark for wins (with five). Much of the credit goes to defenseman Tyler Eckford, whose eight-point week (two goals, six assists) earned him the AHL's Player of the Week laurels. … Veteran defenseman Dean Arsene has made a huge difference to the Springfield Falcons blueline -- and dressing room -- after coming over from Hershey (funny the amount of cache a couple of Calder Cup rings can bring). Yet for all of his qualities and accomplishments, the nine-year pro was still looking for his first NHL call-up. He received that welcome word on Saturday, when the Edmonton Oilers elevated him to bolster an ailing blue line. Arsene is still waiting to play his first big-league game after sitting as healthy scratch Sunday for the Oil's game with Atlanta … The wait was much less for Portland Pirates' rookie center Tyler Ennis, who scored for Buffalo in his NHL debut Saturday, and then was back with the Pirates Sunday for their 5-4 loss to Bridgeport (Mark Wotton with the game winner with 2 seconds remaining in OT). … Ennis, by the way, is tied with Lowell defenseman Matt Taormina (Providence College) as the AHL's leading rookie scorers (both with 6-8-14). However the two are tied for 28th spot in the overall scoring race. This, so far, is a departure from recent seasons, when first-year point-getters have quickly made their marks in the AHL.
Dan Hickling can be reached at email@example.com.