Dec. 23, 2016

This season we have been publishing feature stories on select players in our home game programs. Through the first half of the season we have profiled five Ohio State women’s hockey players in these stories. This week we’ll be posting one each day so you can have a chance to catch up on the wonderful stories behind some of your favorite Buckeyes.

*Each story will be posted as it was written for that given weekend. Because of that, some information (records, statistics, etc.) will be outdated.

Last weekend was one to celebrate for Ohio State. Hosting No. 9 North Dakota for a two-game series, OSU came away with a 1-0-1 record against the Fighting Hawks that was capped by a 2-1 win on Saturday afternoon.

“It was awesome,” said junior Julianna Iafallo. “Taking them to a shootout on Friday was great and it really fired us up for the next day. Going in we had the right attitude. Everyone bought in and knew what it was going to take to beat them. Everyone did their job, it was amazing to see what happens when our team all comes together like that.”

Playing in all 18 games so far this season, Iafallo has tallied three goals and three assists for the Buckeyes, including an assist in the 1-1 tie against North Dakota. The Eden, New York native notched her first point of the season, though, against the Wisconsin Badgers back on Oct. 8.

“It was just a great play, I remember it like it was yesterday,” Iafallo said. “Dani [Sadek] walked it out and passed it off to Sam [Bouley], then Sam made a great pass to me and it came down to a one-on-one and I just tried to get it on net.”

You can’t blame her for having such a good memory of the play; scoring against the stingiest defense in the country is no easy feat, for any team. Tack onto that the fact that Ohio State tied the Badgers in that game, and became the first team this season to get points against UW, and it was a big moment for this Buckeye team.

“Playing Wisconsin is always a big weekend for us,” Iafallo said of her WCHA foes. “You always want to prove that you can fight with the top-ranked teams. You want to give them a battle and not be just another team they walk all over.”

That’s exactly what the Buckeyes have been doing this season- battling.

They have two wins over ranked opponents as well as a couple ties and three one-goal losses. To use Iafallo’s words, Ohio State has been the opposite of the team that gets walked all over. And seeing as these are the last games before the team breaks for a few weeks, there’s some extra motivation to go out and leave it all on the ice.

“Having this as our last games before the break means we have to give everything we have,” Iafallo acknowledged. “We’ll need to be relentless this weekend.”

There’s no doubt that the Buckeyes will be relentless this weekend against Wisconsin, and that’s especially true for Iafallo. After all, she’s been playing hockey all her life and was coached by the best motivator somebody can have: her father.

From the time she first laced up her skates all the way through high school, the father-daughter duo saw a lot of ice time together, and Iafallo could not imagine anything better.

“It was great,” she said with a smile when asked about having her dad as a coach. “He could get me really fired up because he knows exactly which buttons to press. It was great having him as a coach because I knew the criticism was coming right from his heart and he wanted me to be the best player I could be all the time.”

“It was so amazing,” Iafallo continued. “I wish everyone had the opportunity to have their dad coach them at least once.”

Luckily for her, mom and dad are able to come down as much as they can since the drive to Columbus isn’t that bad. She’s not the only hockey player they have to keep tabs on though; Iafallo’s older brother, Alex, is a senior on the No. 1-ranked Minnesota Duluth men’s hockey team. She has encouraged her parents to see him play as much as they can in his final season, but they’re still able to make it down here and watch the Buckeyes play a good amount.

When they are able to make it down, she loves seeing them in the stands. And when they aren’t able to make it down, she can count on getting some tips and pointers from her dad, the coach.

“All the time,” Iafallo said when asked if her dad’s coaching side still comes out. “He’ll send me emails in the middle of the night of NHL goals and different moves I should try in my next game. It’s so awesome. I don’t think I appreciated it as much as I should have when I was little, but looking back it’s amazing what he did for us.”

Having two children playing college hockey at Minnesota Duluth and Ohio State certainly qualifies under amazing, and Iafallo credits a lot to hockey days with dad behind the bench.

“Something I carry with me all the time is him saying ‘mind over matter’,” Iafallo said. “Going into big weekends like this you have to believe you can beat them and just forget about their ranking. I take that saying with me in everything I do.”