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Jean-Philippe Lamoureax

UND goalie, other players sign with NHL

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Jean-Philippe Lamoureux signed with the Alaska Aces in the East Coast Hockey League last season, knowing that if he wanted an NHL contract, he had to earn it.

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That's exactly what the former Grand Forks Central and UND standout did.

After a brilliant season in the ECHL - where Lamoureux was named the league's rookie of the year and goalie of the year - the 2008 Hobey Baker finalist has signed a one-year contract with the Buffalo Sabres.

Lamoureux will report to the Sabres' training camp in September and is expected to start with the team's American Hockey League affiliate, the Portland Pirates.

"I'm just trying to pay my dues and work my way up the ladder," Lamoureux said Wednesday night. "I'm trying to prove that I'm on the elite tier as far as goalie prospects go.

"I'm probably going to start as the fourth goalie in the organization, but I really feel like I can push for starting time in the American League if I play well. I'll have to pay my dues and bide my time."

The organization's top three goaltenders are Ryan Miller, Patrick Lalime and Jhonas Enroth.

Portland coach Kevin Dineen was high on Lamoureux, so the organization asked the 5-foot-10, 155-pound goalie to participate in Buffalo's development camp earlier this month. Lamoureux accepted the offer and the Sabres liked what they saw.

"Kevin put it best," Lamoureux said. "He said that after the camp, I'm no longer a name on a piece of paper. They had a chance to see me play and see my body of work on the ice."

Lamoureux has been decorated at every level he's played. After leaving Central, he was named the goalie of the year in the United States Hockey League. At UND, he won the league's goaltending title and was named a Hobey Baker finalist.

Last season, he set the ECHL's record for shutouts in a season and also led the league in wins.

"It was a good jumping-off point," Lamoureux said. "Now, this is a new stepping stone. I'm certainly excited about the opportunity, but I still feel like I have a lot left to accomplish."

Potulny re-signs with Edmonton

Lamoureux wasn't the only former Grand Forks high school player to sign an NHL contract on Wednesday.

Grand Forks Red River's Ryan Potulny re-signed with the Edmonton Oilers, the organization he played for last season.

Potulny played the first eight games last season with the Oilers, before getting sent to the AHL's Springfield Falcons. The former Minnesota Gopher excelled with the Falcons, tallying a career-high 38 goals and 24 assists for 62 points in 70 games. He was picked to play in the AHL All-Star Game.

Potulny has played a total of 52 games in the NHL in his career. He was a restricted free agent this summer.

UND's Rick Wilson hired in Tampa

In desperate need of improvement on the blue line, the Tampa Bay Lightning have again looked in UND's direction.

After trading for defenseman David Hale and signing defenseman Matt Smaby, the Lightning hired Rick Wilson to help coach the blue liners on Tuesday.

Wilson, a former Sioux player and assistant coach, will be the associate head coach of the Lightning under Rick Tocchet. In a statement, Tocchet said the Lightning want Wilson - who previously served as the associate coach for the Dallas Stars - to work with the young defensive corps.

"His resume as a defensive coach is impeccable," Tocchet said of Wilson. "He has worked for many years and coached in big games and in big situations, including the Stanley Cup Finals. He makes our staff better. He will make me a better head coach and I am very excited about having him lead a group of young defensemen that we want to see grow together for the next several years."

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