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Jincy Dunne, a head above competition following redshirt season due to concussion

Ohio State women's hockey defenseman Jincy Dunne surveys the ice trying to find an open skater against Minnesota on Oct. 21, 2016. Credit: Courtesy of OSU Athletics

Ohio State women’s hockey defenseman Jincy Dunne surveys the ice trying to find an open skater against Minnesota on Oct. 21, 2016. Credit: Courtesy of OSU Athletics

When redshirt freshman defenseman Jincy Dunne signed to play for Ohio State women’s hockey in 2015, she had a resume brimming with on-ice accomplishments and was looking ahead to a promising future at OSU.

A member of the U.S. Women’s National Hockey team for multiple years, Dunne was set to represent the U.S. at the U18 Women’s World Championships that same year. There was nowhere to go but up, until Dunne encountered the biggest roadblock of her career.

Shortly after scoring the winning goal for the U.S. in the gold medal game of the world championships, Dunne skated head-on into boards, resulting in the worst concussion of her career. The injury forced her to sit out for the 2015-16 season, putting her time with OSU women’s hockey on hold.

“It was hard. Obviously, I wanted to be a part of the team, just be with the girls and everything they were going through,” Dunne said. “But in the same breath, I was trying to look at it as a chance. I’m a big believer that everything happens for a reason, so I was just really trying to take a step back and learn about where I was and what position I was in.”

After a challenging offseason, Dunne, who is often referred to as the Jack Eichel of women’s college hockey, has returned to the ice at full strength, and is looking to prove herself as a tough competitor and dedicated teammate.

“I know coming back from an injury … it’s just frustrating at first,” Dunne said. “So really (I’m) just focusing on trying to be a good teammate and trying to stay positive through all of it.”

Dunne has been quick to make an impact on OSU women’s hockey, playing in every game so far in the 2016-17 season. She is tied for second in points on the team, with two goals and seven assists.

OSU coach Nadine Muzerall said that Dunne’s work ethic both on and off the ice has helped elevate the Buckeyes’ overall intensity .

“She is an outstanding, solid defenseman,” Muzerall said. “Her vision on the ice is always two steps ahead of everyone else, so her playmaking is sensational. She also has incredible hands in tight areas.”

Despite being ranked near the top of the roster, Dunne remains humbled and focused on her one true goal: playing the sport that she loves.

“I really try to go out there and just be fearless and not worry about making mistakes or being as good as I once was, but instead to really just enjoy it, have fun, live in the moment and do my best,” Dunne said.

Her dedication to hockey and OSU doesn’t go unnoticed by her teammates, especially sophomore forward Maddy Field, who said Dunne’s encouragement and leadership keep the team going through tough times

“She knows that she’s a very big player on our team,” Field said. “She’s very calm and collected on the ice and she knows that she’s kind of like the quarterback back there. She knows how to calm us down and get us pumped up right.”

Even with all the praise and accomplishments, Dunne isn’t too caught up in becoming a decorated player while at OSU. She said she’s more concerned with enjoying her time here and be the best teammate she can be.

“I just want to be a part of it,” Dunne said. “I just want people to remember me as someone who really helped build something and who really cared and put her heart and soul into the program and her teammates, and really just tried to leave this program better than she found it.”

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