For Hockey’s Lamoureux Sisters, Perfect Ending Was Only a Pause

The two biggest victories came in quick succession.

In March 2017, the twin sisters Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson and Monique Lamoureux-Morando helped secure better pay and benefits for themselves and their teammates on the United States women’s hockey team.

Less than a year later, at the 2018 Winter Olympics, the Lamoureux sisters scored the final two goals of a comeback victory in the gold medal game against Canada. Jocelyne’s, a deceptive pullback that gave the Americans a win in a shootout, was arguably one of the most important goals in women’s hockey history.

They had crafted — on and off the ice — the perfect denouement to their careers as hockey players.

But the Lamoureux sisters are passing on that storybook ending. In the coming months, Jocelyne and Monique, new mothers who turned 30 in July, will press for more gains for the women’s national team when the team begins negotiations with U.S.A. Hockey for a new contract. They will continue to direct a player-led push for a professional women’s league that provides livable salaries so women would not need second jobs. And they will keep on playing.

For now, that will not be in the existing women’s professional league in North America. Instead, they are part of a group of Olympians who have chosen to compete in a series of exhibitions and showcases to promote their sport across North America, a tour that began last week in Toronto. The Lamoureux sisters say they also are seeking to further redefine perceptions surrounding athletes and motherhood.

“We’re really just broadening our scope of what equality means and what we really want to be outside of sports,” Lamoureux-Davidson said.

Since the Olympics, the Lamoureuxs have become women’s hockey’s most visible advocates for equality. They have discussed their experiences at speaking engagements around the country, including a TED Talk. But only two years ago, the Lamoureuxs thought their hockey careers might be over.

During pre-Olympic warm-up games, the Lamoureux names, staples of top American lines since 2010, vanished from the team’s roster sheets. No explanation was given from coaches or U.S.A. Hockey, but as leaders of the team’s push for better financial support and working conditions in early 2017, the twins wondered if they were being punished.

The eventual decision to restore them to the team and include them on the Olympic roster proved wise. Even before the Americans advanced to the final against Canada, which had won the last four gold medals and had dominated recent meetings between the teams, the raised stakes were palpable.

“After everything that we’ve done, now the pressure’s going to be on us from not just ourselves but from U.S.A. Hockey,” Lamoureux-Morando said of her mind-set entering the Games. “Like, ‘You guys fought for all these things and now you’re getting them — you better go win.’”

With the United States trailing Canada by 2-1 entering the third period of the final, Lamoureux-Morando tied the score with less than seven minutes remaining in regulation. Then, in the sixth round of an overtime shootout, Lamoureux-Davidson was summoned onto the ice.

“Just the look of confidence and the presence, I was like, she’s got this,” Lamoureux-Morando said.

Lamoureux-Davidson’s goal became an iconic moment of the Games and received social media praise from celebrities like Steph Curry. She slowly skated in an S toward Canadian goaltender Shannon Szabados, then methodically approached the crease with a series of fakes that sent Szabados to the ice, creating the opening for her to slip the puck into the net for the eventual game-winner.

After the victory, the American players were celebrated during appearances on television shows and at N.H.L. arenas. But the momentum behind what could have been a driving moment for women’s hockey soon petered out. A major investment in women’s professional hockey did not come.

Lamoureux-Davidson and Lamoureux-Morando took breaks from playing to have children. Even before winning the gold medal, the Lamoureuxs had planned to start families after the Olympics. The national team deal they had helped to negotiate included comprehensive maternity benefits for the first time, and the sisters were the first to use them. They said that U.S.A. Hockey now provides 100 percent pay during maternity leave.

Without the maternity benefits, Lamoureux-Morando said, the chances of her and her sister continuing to play were “very slim.”

With that financial stability, however, the sisters did not need to seek out part-time work and were able to work out almost daily throughout their pregnancies. At ease financially, both sisters documented their pregnancies and postpartum lives on social media and in television interviews.

They said they were inspired by Serena Williams, who candidly discussed her depression and struggles to return to her physical standards when she returned to professional tennis after giving birth to her daughter. That openness has helped their hockey teammates.

“I have talked to them a ton,” said the American Olympic captain Meghan Duggan, who is expecting her first child in February.

Now that the sisters are playing again, their primary goal is to reshape what professional women’s hockey looks like in North America. They are key members of the Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association, which was formed this year with a goal of creating a financially stable professional league. After the Canadian Women’s Hockey League folded in May, the National Women’s Hockey League is the only pro option in North America, but salaries there have yet to reach livable wages.

“We’re trying to create more opportunities for the next generation,” Lamoureux-Davidson said. “We’re trying to create a viable, sustainable option where if we’re going to call ourselves professional athletes, we’re treated as such and not as after-work extracurricular.”

The P.W.H.P.A. set up its so-called Dream Gap Tour, with clinics and exhibitions throughout North America, to prove the viability of girls and women’s hockey by drawing sizable crowds and enticing new sponsors. The tour began in Toronto in late September and drew 3,800 fans over two days of events and companies like Budweiser, Adidas and Unifor as sponsors.

The Lamoureux twins said that their vision is to have a new league by 2020, which is also the final year of the national team players’ current contract with U.S.A. Hockey. They have become more involved on committees within the governing body.

“Things can still continue to get better,” Lamoureux-Davidson said. “I think the way you do that is you have to change it from within, and change the conversation around girls and women’s hockey. It’s a mind-set change and that doesn’t happen overnight just because a contract was signed.”

The sisters are aiming to play at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. “We might not go longer than that,” Lamoureux-Davidson said, declining to commit to a firm retirement date.

For now, there’s still plenty to do.