CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—Jerry Forton, a 15-year collegiate coaching veteran, has been named an assistant coach for the Harvard men's hockey team, Ted Donato '91, the Robert D. Ziff '88 Head Coach for Harvard Men's Ice Hockey, announced Wednesday.
Forton served as an assistant coach at UMass Lowell each of the last two seasons, following 13 years on the Niagara staff. At both schools, he worked with both forwards and defensemen, oversaw recruiting efforts, scouted opponents and assisted with game strategy. Forton recruited five players to the River Hawks and seven to the Purple Eagles who were drafted or signed National Hockey League free-agent contracts.
"We're excited to be able to add someone of Jerry's character and experience," Donato said. "He has done a great job recruiting and developing players and has helped his teams win numerous league titles and reach the national tournament."
The 2009-10 season, Forton's first at Lowell, was a landmark campaign for the program. The River Hawks reached as high as No. 3 in the national polls and tied for third place in Hockey East at season's end.
During his tenure at Niagara, Forton helped transform the Purple Eagles from a first-year Division III varsity program in 1996-97 to an NCAA Division I tournament team in 2000, '04 and '08. Niagara's 1999-2000 squad finished with a 30-8-1 record and reached the NCAA semifinals.
Niagara won four conference regular-season championships and four tournament titles in Forton's time there. The Purple Eagles ranked among the nation's top 20 in six of their 11 Division I seasons and posted Division I's longest home unbeaten streak in a quarter-century with a 23-game undefeated run.
Off the ice, Forton assisted with Niagara's strength coaching and monitored its student-athletes academic progress, seeing 44 of 45 players graduate on time.
In addition to his collegegiate coaching, Forton has served as a presenter, team head coach and evaluator at USA Hockey festivals and has been a presenter at NCAA Youth Education through Sports Clinics.
A 1986 University of Buffalo graduate, Forton was a member of the UB hockey team from 1982-86, serving as an assistant captain his junior and senior years. He was also a four-year goalkeeper on the Bulls soccer team and ranks third among all-time leaders in career goals-against average (1.39) and wins (19).
Forton was a three-time SUNY Center Conference soccer standout and the Most Valuable Player of the conference tournament as a junior. He was also named to the National Soccer Coaches Association first team as a junior and senior. Forton earned a law degree from UB in 1989 and opened a law practice in Buffalo. He also spent six years (1990-96) as an assistant with the Bulls men's soccer team and was inducted into the UB Athletic Hall of Fame in 1997.
A fitness enthusiast, Forton has twice competed in the National Ironman Triathlon Championship.
A native of Buffalo, he has served on the board of directors for two charities, the Early Childhood Foundation and Sea Fever, Inc., which provide funding and craftsman opportunities to disadvantaged children in inner city Buffalo.