Courtney Kessel Announced as Furies New Head Coach


TORONTO (July 31, 2018) – The Toronto Furies of The Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) are excited to welcome Courtney Kessel (nee Birchard), as the new head coach of the Toronto Furies and Ken Dufton as a coach adviser for the upcoming 2018-19 CWHL season.

“I am really excited to join the Furies organization,” stated Kessel. “It’s an amazing opportunity to be back in the CWHL, a league that provided me so many opportunities as a player.”

A University of New Hampshire graduate, Kessel brings with her a decorated resumé both in coaching and as a player.

Kessel is currently a coach within Canada’s National Team program, coaching this past season with Canada’s U22 Development team. She was also the head coach at Havergal College in Toronto and served as an assistant for the Oakville Hornets. Kessel has also spent many years as a skill instructor for Fierce Hockey.

Recently retired from the National Team program, Kessel competed in elite women’s hockey for 10 years, most recently in the Swedish Elite League with Linkoping. A solid defenceman in the Canadian National Team program, she played in three IIHF World Championships with Team Canada, winning gold in 2012. In addition, she also played at the U22 and U18 levels of the National program. Within the CWHL, the University of New Hampshire alumna played five seasons with the Brampton (now Markham) Thunder of the CWHL from 2011 to 2017, appearing in two CWHL All-Star games and earning Rookie of the Year honours in 2012.

“I want my passion for hockey to be contagious,” said Kessel. “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.”

Joining the team in an advisory role, Dufton comes to the Furies as one of the most decorated coaches in female hockey history. 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.

“I’m excited to assist Courtney and Sami Jo in any way possible to help the Furies succeed on and off the ice,” said Dufton. “This position is full circle for me as I have been witness to the start of the organization and helped with its growth, but I have been out of senior hockey since the inception of the CWHL. I’m looking forward to working within a learning environment committed to excellence and respect.”

About the CWHL

The Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) is the premier, professionally-run women’s hockey league in the world. With seven current clubs throughout North America and China, it enables elite female hockey players to pursue their dreams of competing at the highest level possible, while enhancing the lives of others through exceptional athleticism, entertainment, and motivation. The league is a centrally funded not-for-profit organization, meaning all participating teams receive equal access to funding to ensure equal opportunity and competition. To learn more visit


Sami Jo Small
General Manager – Toronto Furies
[email protected]