Representing consistency and a solid work ethic, Julia McKinnon was a key part of the Buckeyes’ offensive attack for four seasons. Completing her proud Buckeyes career with 72 points, on the strength of 39 assists, she would also appear in more than 125 games.
At the time of McKinnon’s arrival in Columbus, the program had seen the graduation of star players Laura McIntosh and Natalie Spooner, who would go on to compete in the CWHL. Leading all freshmen with 20 points in her debut season, highlighted by 12 goals (of which six were scored on the power play), she would help the program remain competitive. Finishing the season with a solid 19 wins, the Buckeyes postseason run resulted in a two-game sweep of the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs, providing McKinnon with a treasured highlight,
“My favourite moment in my Buckeye career would have to be making it to the WCHA Final Four my freshman year.”
Among the highlights of playing for the Buckeyes was the opportunity to wear the team colors with fellow British Columbia residents Lauren Spring and Alexa Ranahan. Raised in Kelowna, BC, which has also produced other hockey stars such as Spring, Karoline and Kristin Huber, Jordan Krause, and Stephanie Schaupmeyer.
Having known Spring since her pre-teens, the two were teammates at the 2011 Canada Winter Games. When their home province hosted the 2012 National U18 championships, Ranahan (a native of Salmon Arm, BC) was among the roster of Team BC. The opportunity to play together at Ohio State not only added another dimension to their playing careers, it only served to strengthen a strong friendship while easing the woes of homesickness.
“I have played with Lauren Spring every other year since we were 10, and I played with Alexa a couple times for team BC. It was very nice being able to talk to people about back home. British Columbia is pretty far, therefore having all three of us here to support each other and be together when our parents could not make the flight out was awesome.”
During McKinnon’s senior season, she would assemble a solid four-game scoring streak from January 22-30, 2016. Amassing nine points, said streak was highlighted by four points against Mankato’s Minnnesota State squad on January 23. For her efforts, she was recognized as the WCHA Offensive Player of the Week (for the week of January 26) as the Buckeyes went undefeated during a road series for the first time all season.
Another aspect of the streak included McKinnon’s final NCAA goal, scored on January 30 against the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs. Coincidentally, it also marked the last multi-point game of her career.
As a side note, McKinnon would also compile a three-game scoring streak from February 12-19, managing at least one point in 10 of the last 16 regular season games for the Buckeyes. Her final point as a Buckeye occurred in the postseason, as she logged an assist on a goal scored by Claudia Kepler in Game One of the WCHA quarterfinals, a February 26 tussle with the eventual Frozen Four champion Minnesota Golden Gophers.
Playing for world class competitor (and the only American born player in the Triple Gold Club for Women) Jenny Potter in her senior season at Ohio State, McKinnon had the opportunity to serve as an alternate captain, one of the true hallmarks of her career in Columbus. A role accepted with great pride, McKinnon worked tirelessly to provide the club with solid leadership, while her playmaking skills resulted in ranking fourth in team scoring.
“It was a great privilege to be named an alternate captain. To be identified as one of the leaders from both your coaches and your teammates is an honour.”
McKinnon was part of a graduating class that featured Kendall Curtis, Stacy Danczak, Melani Moylan, Bryanna Neuwald, Maggie Rothgery and Cara Zubko, a two-time nominee for the Hockey Humanitarian Award. Although their senior night coincided with the final regular season game on February 20, resulting in a hard-fought 3-2 loss to the number-9 ranked North Dakota Fighting Hawks; the squad managed a 3-1 win against North Dakota the night before. During the win, McKinnon made her mark, earning an assist on a goal by Claudia Kepler. While senior night brought her career full circle, it was a tremendous milestone highlighted by the proud presence family, celebrating the efforts of more than just a player, but a treasured teammate and great friend,
“Senior night was a bit of a bitter sweet moment. I never thought that the day was ever going to come, but it was awesome having my parents make the long flight here. I never realized how fast time truly goes as a Buckeye until that night. All the seniors could agree with me that it was a great night.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Images obtained from Facebook