Hamilton celebrates Laura Fortino, Olympic hockey gold
The Canadian women's hockey team took down team USA in a nail biter Thursday
It took overtime, some good bounces, a Golden Goal post and some insanely hard work: but Hamilton's Laura Fortino and the rest of the Canadian women's hockey team are Olympic champions.
Fortino assisted on the golden goal, shovelling a beautiful pass to Marie-Philip Poulin to cap off an amazing comeback, when the Canadian team looked like it was staring silver in the face.
Team USA held a 2-0 lead Thursday with time running out and all signs pointed to the Americans winning gold and handing Canada its first Olympic defeat since 1998.
However, Brianne Jenner scored at 16:34 of the third period to give Canada hope and then Poulin tied it at 19:05 with goaltender Shannon Szabados on the bench for an extra skater. Canada went on the power play in overtime and that opened the door for Poulin to score her second goal of the game.
"When they tied it up, we were in shock," said Fortino's brother, Ray, who was watching the game in Hamilton with his brothers, grandmothers, uncles and cousins. "It was such a surreal moment for our family."
A little bit of despair did creep in when the U.S. went up 2-0, Ray admits, but that didn't last. "I was a little bit deflated, but once they got that first goal, we felt it."
Diane Boles, Fortino's former coach with the Stoney Creek Sabers, said she never doubted the Canadian team would take the gold. "No Canadian ever thinks we're done," she said. "It was a nail biter, but the cream rises to the top."
Boles coached Fortino (affectionately dubbed Tino by her teammates) for three seasons. She says even as a young athlete, Fortino was a selfless, self-directed young woman who worked extremely hard.
"When she started training, she couldn't do even one chin up. That all changed," she said. "She liked to train, and she liked getting better."
Pride just bubbled with the overtime win, Boles says. "I was jumping up and down like an idiot, just like everyone else," she said.
She wasn't the only one. Hamiltonians erupted with praise for Fortino almost instantly after the goal: