BURLINGTON Ė Now 21, Laura Fortino started her career with Team Canada at the IIHFís U18 tournament in Calgary in 2008, the first ever for the new event. Both that year and the next Canada and Fortino had to settle for silver, and in the fall of 2009 she joined Cornell University at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
As a freshman, the defenceman from Hamilton, Ontario, became the first player from Cornell to be accorded first-team All-America honours. In her second year, she was the only defenceman in the top-ten finalists for the Patty Kazmaier award as NCAA MVP and was again a first-team All-American.
The 2012 WW marks Fortinoís first IIHF games at the senior level with Team Canada. She scored the teamís first goal yesterday in its 3-2 victory over Finland.
When did you start skating? Why?
I started when I was three, in Hamilton, Ontario. I had two older brothers who played hockey, so I was always out there with them. I saw what they were doing was fun, so I wanted to try. I loved it.
Who was your first hockey hero? Why?
Our family has always been Boston Bruins fans, so Ray Bourque and Bobby Orr. And they were defencemen.
What was the name of your first team?
Hamilton Reps. I was eight, I think.
What made you want to take hockey seriously enough to play for the national team?
Iíve just always had a passion for the game. Itís so much fun, and making friendships and being part of a team is unbelievable. Iíve had so many great experiences and opportunities from hockey, I thought this was the right path for me. Iím glad I took it.
Why do you wear number 8?
I used to wear 23, but I was 8 at the Four Nations. Thereís no reason. At school I wear 77 because of Bourque.
Any pre-game superstitions?
I do. I get made fun of for a lot of them. Every player has them, I think. Itís more of a routine. Before a game, there are two main songs I listen to before going out on the ice, but I canít say what they are. And there are other things, too, which I canít say.
Whatís on your iPod?
Pretty much everything. Iím not picky. Anything from country to hip hop, stuff like that.
What do you remember about your first game with the national team?
The first time I ever put the Team Canada jersey on was a shocking moment. It was at the first ever U18 in Calgary in 2008 [against Czech Republic]. Thatís what you dream of when youíre younger. It was just an unbelievable feeling and took me quite a while to get over that shock.
Whatís your career highlight to date?
In my freshman year at Cornell, we were the underdogs, but we had an unbelievable season. We won Ivy League, ECAC, and made it to the finals of the national championship. The game went to triple overtime. We ended up losing, but it was a crazy experience that Iíll never forget.
Whatís your greatest strength and biggest weakness?
My greatest strength is my skating, and the fact that as a defenceman I can bring an offensive style, jump into the rush and add that aspect to the game. As for weakness, maybe just focusing on my defensive zone and being strong and physical.
Who on your team do you most admire? Why?
I most admire Caroline Ouellette. Sheís such a great leader and role model for all of womenís hockey. Sheís so consistent on the ice and works so hard. Sheís won so many Olympic gold medals and sheís still trying to get better every day. Itís awesome to be around her; sheís such a great person.
What do you want to do after your playing career?
I want to go to medical school. Iím not sure what Iíd specialize in, but I know I want to be in the medical field.
Finish this sentence. This will be a great tournament ifÖ
Öif we win a gold medal.