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One buddy plays, one cheers

Late cut Bram watches as St. Anne pal Larocque chases gold

Posted: 02/8/2014 1:00 AM | Comments: 0

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Jocelyne Larocque (3) and Meaghan Mikkelson lie on the ice posing for a photograph during a training session Thursday ahead of the competition.

JULIO CORTEZ / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Enlarge Image

Jocelyne Larocque (3) and Meaghan Mikkelson lie on the ice posing for a photograph during a training session Thursday ahead of the competition.

SOCHI, Russia -- They were supposed to be here together. Two kids from Ste. Anne chasing the same dream and finally conquering the world as a pair. But high-performance athletics doesn't bow to dreams, only to laws of the jungle and so Jocelyne Larocque is here and Bailey Bram is not.

Larocque will be skating today in her first Olympic hockey game and Bram, the last woman cut from this team just prior to Christmas, will be watching her friend complete their dream alone.

"I miss (Bailey) and I wanted to share this experience with her," said Larocque. "In an ideal world we would be here together, but unfortunately it didn't work out. I miss her and I wish she was here, but at the same time I have to focus on my job and representing Canada."

'Hockey Canada expects excellence and they expect gold. It's a lot of responsibility but we accept it. We do everything in our power to be our best and represent Canada as best we can'

-- Jocelyne Larocque

Bram and Larocque dressed for Canada in a pre-tournament game in Grand Forks in late December, and it was their last time skating together as the roster was reduced to its Olympic number.

"We talk. We text. She's still supporting me. On (Friday) morning her mom posted a picture of me and Bailey with our team when I was six and she was four. It said, 'Go Joc. We're cheering for you.' It's great," said Larocque. "The Bram family have been like a second family for me. Bill coached me for five or six years and he's helped me get to where I am today."

Team Canada coach Kevin Dineen has spent some time getting to know his group since taking over in mid-December after the surprise resignation of former coach Dan Church. He expects a lot from Larocque and her defence partner Meaghan Mikkelson.

"Jocelyne plays with an edge. I like that. She and her partner can do some things others can't do. Jocelyne is a cerebral player and she has instinct," said Dineen. "They can play at both ends and they're very good in their own end. But today's chat was about activating their offence. They can provide that, too."

Larocque has been enjoying the Olympic experience but she's not here to just walk in the opening ceremony. She's got a job to do.

"It's a wonderful experience and I'm enjoying it but I can't wait to play some games. We're enjoying the moment but our focus is playing the games and taking care of business," she said. "Hockey Canada expects excellence and they expect gold. It's a lot of responsibility but we accept it. We do everything in our power to be our best and represent Canada as best we can."

While all of Canada will be watching these Games, Larocque says she's got a special audience all her own.

"Coming from a small town and being able to represent, not only Canada, but where I come from. Being able to represent Ste. Anne, I have a lot of pride about growing up there," she said. "My parents and my extended family have been so supportive and shown me so much love. I'm just so lucky. I've been getting a lot of messages and pictures with 'Go Joc go,' and it's just so awesome. I appreciate all the support and I'm going to try and represent them as best as I can."

Larocque is ultimately asked what is the perfect ending to her story and she summed it all up quickly and concisely.

"Gold medal."

 

gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @garylawless

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 8, 2014 C3

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