Hamilton's Laura Fortino becomes 1st female assistant coach in Ontario Hockey League history

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Laura Fortino started her hockey career in Hamilton with the Stoney Creek Sabres and Burlington Barracudas. The former national women's team player is now an assistant coach  (Kevin Light Photography/CBC - image credit)
Laura Fortino started her hockey career in Hamilton with the Stoney Creek Sabres and Burlington Barracudas. The former national women's team player is now an assistant coach (Kevin Light Photography/CBC - image credit)

Hamilton's Laura Fortino has become the first female to be named an assistant coach in the Ontario Hockey League.

Fortino, a star with the Canadian national women's team for many years, has been hired by the Hamilton Bulldogs, the club's president and general manager announced Monday.

Steve Staios said Fortino, 31, will be the Bulldogs' director of player development.

"We are incredibly excited to welcome Laura to our Hamilton Bulldogs family," Staios said, adding she "exudes the passion, character and leadership that we covet in Hamilton."

"We have witnessed firsthand through our training and development camps over the years, her ability to coach and mentor players," he said.

"Laura's playing experience and success speaks for itself. She has been an instrumental part on many championship teams and undoubtedly will carry on that success as a coach."

Starred with Cornell Big Red from 2009-2013

Fortino, a Hamilton native, has enjoyed a marvellous playing career dating back to her time locally with the Stoney Creek Sabres and Burlington Barracudas, the Bulldogs said in a release.

Fortino starred with the Cornell Big Red from 2009-2013 and then enjoyed professional success with the Brampton/Markham Thunder of the Canadian Women's Hockey League (CWHL). She's been a driving force behind the Professional Women's Hockey Players Association (PWHPA).

"I'm thrilled to add Laura to our staff," said Bulldogs head coach Jay McKee.

"With her infectious personality and fantastic hockey resume, I'm grateful for the opportunity to work alongside her."

Fortino helped Canada take the gold medal at the 2014 Olympics and silver in 2018. She also helped Canada earn several medals at the world championships.

It was Fortino's pass to Marie-Philip Poulin in overtime that led Canada to the gold medal in 2014.

Later that year, Fortino was taken first overall in the Canadian Women's Hockey League draft by the Brampton Thunder, after four years in the NCAA with Cornell in Ithaca, N.Y.