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Toronto Furies hire Kessel as head coach

Courtney Kessel returns from Europe to coach her former rivals.

Courtney Birchard (24) of the Brampton Thunder scores on Toronto Furies goalie Christina Kessler (35) as their teammates look on during a Brampton home game in 2015-16 Jess Bazal / CWHL

The Toronto Furies announced this morning that they have hired Courtney Kessel as head coach and Ken Dufton as coaching advisor.

Kessel is best known to CWHL fans as forward Courtney Birchard, who spent five seasons with the Brampton Thunder and won Rookie of the Year in 2012. She also has extensive coaching experience, most recently with the Canadian National Women’s Development Team at the 2018 Nations Cup in Füssen, Germany.

From the press release:

Kessel replaces Jeff Flanagan, who spent one season as Furies head coach for the 2017-18 season. He leaves with a regular season record of 9 wins and 19 losses, and a sixth-place finish.

“I want my passion for hockey to be contagious,” said Kessel in the team’s announcement. “I want to create an environment that is enjoyable and gives each individual the opportunity to develop their skills and challenge themselves to reach their full potential.”

It will be interesting to see what Kessel, as someone who was playing against the Furies only one year ago, can bring to her new team.

She is joined by Ken Dufton in an advisory role. From the team:

Having been a founding member of the Toronto Aeros organization, Dufton helped develop a program that included many Olympians, World Champions and Hockey Hall of Fame members. Under his steward, the Aeros became one of the most successful teams of all time, having won four National Championships (predecessor to the Clarkson Cup). Dufton has also coached at the National Team level, winning two IIHF World Championships as a coach with Team Canada. He has more than 35 years of coaching experience and most recently coached the Toronto Aeros Midget team and Ryerson Rams varsity women’s hockey program.

Next up for the Furies front office will be filling their three pre-signing slots as a precursor to the CWHL Draft, which takes place in Toronto on Sunday, August 26th.