He did it. He finally did it. Alex Iafallo scored his first National Hockey League goal on November 4th assisted by Anze Kopitar. You read that right. His first goal was assisted by an all-time great, Anze Kopitar. Talk about something he will never forget.
It seems like just yesterday that I was growing up with Alex in the great farm town of Eden, just outside of Buffalo. I still bump into him at the annual Eden Corn Fest and we recall the fond memories of playing ball hockey or pond shinny with our good buddies Brien Connelly and Zach Arno.
We were just a couple naive kids that dreamed of playing in Game 7’s. Never in our wildest dreams did we actually think that would become a reality. I cannot help but to get jacked up following Alex and his young, promising career. Every time he takes the ice I get to brag to my friends that I know him.
Call me crazy, but his sister, Jules, and his father, Tom, have better hands than him. Jules plays hockey at Ohio State University. She is in her senior year and off to a hot start with 7 points in 9 games, as the Buckeyes are a top ten team. Tom can still be found playing men’s league hockey where he is the silkiest player on the ice no matter the age of his teammates or opponents.
Growing up with Alex was awesome. He is a kind soft-spoken kid who was incredibly driven. His infectious smile and bright personality stood out at a young age. There was one thing you could always count on him doing, however, and that was playing hockey.
He loved every minute of it. I would often bump into him running laps at the Eden High School Track, or roller blading and stick handling on the tennis courts. He always had that same smile on his face. Always serious, but never too serious.
Off the ice, he was a stud volleyball player for Eden, which is known for its volleyball. If he did not choose to play junior hockey in the USHL, his volleyball Coach Robert Pierce would have pushed for him to play D-1 volleyball.
But, Alex followed his heart to the USHL and then to the NCAA for the University of Minnesota Duluth. His decision paid off as he led his team to an NCAA Frozen Four National Championship in 2017. He scored a crucial goal in an exciting win over Harvard University.
After the game, Alex had his pick of teams to sign with in the NHL. He chose the L.A. Kings. The decision was the right one.
Alex is off to a hot-start on the top line of the Kings. His point total should only grow, and he finally got the monkey of his first NHL goal off his back.
Here’s to you Alex! All your hard work paid off. Keep making Eden proud.
I am honored to call you a friend for life.
By: Matthew Benedict