Thursday, January 16, 2020

Laura Fortino: Three Autographed Cards

The NHL announced it will hold a Women's 3-on-3 tournament during the All-Star Weekend, featuring an American and a Canadian team facing off, with 10 players suiting up for each. Of course, that means 13 players from World Championship and/or Olympic rosters didn't make the cut for reasons ranging from unavailability to marketability to the NHL not having French-speaking decision-makers and the PWHPA choosing to play its run of exhibition games in places like Hartford, Etobicoke, Hudson (New Hampshire), and Buffalo instead of, say, Montréal, where half the Canadian Olympic team played for the CWHL's Montréal Canadiennes, the team that has won most of the league's championships in ended up as finalists almost every other time.

All of this to say that the only three Quebecers who made Team Canada were Marie-Philip Poulin (the current best player in the world), Mélodie Daoust and goalie Ann-Renée Desbiens, leaving out Lauriane Rougeau, Annie Bélanger, Catherine Daoust, Tracy-Ann Lavigne, Geneviève Lacasse, Mélanie Desrochers, Sarah Lefort, Ann-Sophie Bettez, Sophie Brault, Kim Deschenes, Maude Gélinas, Karell Emard, Marie-Soleil Deschenes, Genevieve Bannon, other francophones such as Ontario's Carolyne Prevost and Marlene Boissonnault from New Brunswick and current Québec residents Emma Martin, Hilary Knight, Jill Saulnier and Erin Ambrose.

That being said, the 20 players who will be there are, indeed, among the 50 best players in the world - roughly the same percentage as the"real" All-Star Game, which will be played without the likes of Alex Ovechkin (declined invitation), Marc-André Fleury (declined), Darcy Kuemper (injury), Jake Guentzel (injury), Johnny Gaudreau (not invited), and Nikita Kucherov (not invited) and Sidney Crosby (missed nearly the entire first half of the season to injury).

Among those who made the cut is defender Laura Fortino, the CWHL's first-overall pick in 2014 who assisted on the gold-winning goal by Poulin at the 2014 Sochi Games in her first Olympic experience and helped Canada capture silver at the 2018 games in Peyongchang. She also has World Championship gold (2012), silver (2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017) and bronze (2019) medalsas well as two U-18 silvers (2008 and 2009).

Professionally, she wore the assistant-captain's "A" for the Brampton Thunder and Markham Thunder. She was mostly a point-per-game player when the team was in Brampton, finishing close to forward Jamie-Lee Rattray for the team's scoring crown. She rarely gets called for penalties, is a quick skater and controls the play very well.

Here she is wearing Canada's 2014-15 pseudo-vintage white ("home") uniform with "CANADA" written diagonally, New York Rangers-style, on card #55 from Upper Deck's 2015-16 Team Canada Juniors/Women set:
And here she is wearing the 2015-16 uniform with the "Hockey Canada" logo (first worn 2008-13), from UD's 2016-17 Team Canada Juniors/Women set:
On the left is the base card (#22 in the collection), while the card on the right is #POE-42 from the Program Of Excellence sub-set.

The Cornell University graduate, College All-Star and 2015-16 CWHL Defenceman (sic) of the Year signed all three in blue sharpie after a game against the Canadiennes in 2017or 2018. She fits perfectly as #8 in my Team Canada Numbers Project.

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