Eric Peterson, Published May 16 2013
Iafallo carries load for Force in the postseason
The speedy forward crashed into the boards skating for the puck.
“I went into the boards at a weird angle,” Iafallo said. “I just felt a pop, just a bad feeling.”
His initial intuition was correct. Iafallo suffered a torn meniscus in his right knee on the play.
“I was worried,” said Iafallo, a Minnesota-Duluth commit. “It is a big injury and long rehab process.”
Less than a year later, Iafallo looks as good as new. He’s tied for the USHL postseason lead with 15 points.
Iafallo and the Force will try to extend their postseason tonight at Scheels Arena, hosting Dubuque. The Fighting Saints have a 2-0 lead in the best-of-5 Clark Cups Finals.
“I think he’s going to play in the National Hockey League,” Force coach John Marks said of Iafallo. “I really do. … He’s a diamond in the rough right now. He is one of the best skaters in the whole league.”
Iafallo had surgery a few days after he suffered the knee injury. He spent the next six weeks on crutches before he could start working his way back to full strength.
“It was pretty rough,” said Iafallo, who is from Eden, N.Y. “You are just sitting in bed and you can’t run. Over the summer, I just thought about hockey.”
Iafallo wasn’t ready for the beginning of the Force season, which started in late September. The 5-foot-11 Iafallo played in his first game on Nov. 9.
“It was weird coming back and playing in a game after being gone for five months,” Iafallo said.
Since his return, Iafallo has scored almost one point a game.
He had 43 points in 50 regular-season games to go along with his 15 points in 12 playoff games.
“As the year has gone by, he’s really come into his own, and he’s been really good for us,” said Force forward Brendan Harms, who plays on the same line with Iafallo. “He’s probably one of the most skilled guys I have seen or played with.”
The Force are going to need Iafallo’s speed and skill to rally back into the series against the Fighting Saints.
The Force have been held to one goal in each of the first two games in the Clark Cup Finals. Both of those games were played in Dubuque.
“We’ve just got to finish our chances,” Iafallo said. “If we can finish them off, I think we will be fine.”
The Force haven’t had a game on home ice since April 27 when they played Sioux Falls in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals. The Force played the final three games of that series in Sioux Falls before heading to Dubuque for the first two games of this series.
“We haven’t been here in a while,” said Harms, who has 10 points in the playoffs. “It’s just nice being back in your own building.”
Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.
Peterson’s blog can be found at peterson.areavoices.com