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Jean LaForest Named SteelHounds Head Coach

June 1, 2005 - Central Hockey League (CHL) - Youngstown SteelHounds News Release

YOUNGSTOWN, OHIO – The Youngstown SteelHounds Hockey Club, the Valleys newest professional sports team, announced today that Jean Laforest (ZHAWN lah-FOHR-ay) has been named the first head coach and director of hockey operations in franchise history. SteelHound Owner Herb Washington and General Manager George Manias made the announcement.

“After an extensive search for the man to lead the SteelHounds on the ice, we feel we have the perfect fit,” said Manias. “With Jean, we have a coach who has been in this situation before. Jean coached for a start-up expansion club, built a team from scratch and won a championship while doing so. He is very familiar with our league and knows how to recruit. Jean knows we expect to win immediately and we feel he is the man for the job, long term.”

Laforest, 37, has coaching experience at the minor pro, junior “A”, college and international level. He comes to Youngstown from the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire where he served as the men’s hockey coach and also served as an instructor in the UW-Eau Claire Department of Kinesiology since 2002.

Between 1997-2000, Laforest coached the Shreveport Mudbugs of the Western Professional Hockey League (WPHL) guiding his club to a 133-56-9 record, three playoff appearances and back-to-back President’s Cup Championships (1998-99 & 1999-2000). During the 1998-99 season, Laforest’s team also won the Governor’s Cup awarded to the WPHL’s regular season champions finishing that year with a 47-17-5 mark and 99 points.

Following his three successful years with Shreveport, the Angus, Ontario native moved on to the United Hockey League (UHL) with the Port Huron Border Cats where he coached during the 2000-01 campaign and parts of the 2001-02 season.

Laforest received a National Coaching Institute scholarship in September, 1996 and studied at the University of Calgary. During this time he worked with the Canadian National Team in Calgary and was mentored by current Los Angeles Kings head coach Andy Murray. During his assignment with Team Canada, Laforest helped the club win a championship at the Bauer International Tournament and a World championship at the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Tournament.

As the bench boss at the junior “A” level, Laforest led the Aylmer (Ontario) Aces to a division championship in 1994 and as a graduate assistant coach at the University of Western Ontario, the team won the Ontario University Athletic Association (OUAA) championship and reached the Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union (CIAU) national finals in 1995.

“I feel very fortunate to be given the opportunity to work for the SteelHound organization,” said LaForest. “Herb Washington and George Manias share my vision and goal of building a premier franchise in the CHL. My undivided efforts will be focused on the task of building a professional hockey team that Youngstown and the surrounding communities will be proud to support. We have quality ownership, quality management, a quality facility and now it is time to build a quality hockey team."

Laforest’s academic life consists of earning a bachelor’s degree in both sociology and kinesiology from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario and a bachelor’s degree in education and a Master of Arts and Science degree in coaching from the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario.

The SteelHounds begin play in the Central Hockey League (CHL) this October in the new Youngstown Convocation Center. For more information please contact the team’s media relations department at (330) 747-7825.

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