In an ongoing series of articles, the Jack Eichel Tracker will monitor Eichel’s performance and development in his freshman season at Boston University. As a BU student, I will have the unique opportunity to watch him in person often throughout the year. Posts are done weekly or bi-weekly, depending upon BU’s schedule.
Jack Eichel Tracker: Breaking Down His Tournament
Like the rest of Team USA, Jack Eichel did not meet the lofty expectations set for himself. The US was the first team eliminated, and they failed to play for a medal for a second consecutive year despite having one of their most talented teams ever. In the much talked about McDavid vs. Eichel matchup, McDavid won.
Eichel started off the tournament well in the first few games. He looked like himself, controlling the pace of play with his poise and strength on the puck. He looked good, but his line wasn’t racking up points as their chemistry seemed just a bit off.
His one goal of the tournament was a highlight reel one, however:
As the tournament wore on, the line still didn’t click. Eichel had played with Alex Tuch for years, but for some reason the chemistry between the two wasn’t there. Instead of shaking up the lines to get his best player going, US coach Mark Osiecki kept Eichel with Tuch and continued to shuffle the left wings instead of making the more drastic changes the forwards obviously needed.
The result was that the offense that rang up 10 goals on Sweden in pre-tournament never reached its potential. Eichel grew increasingly frustrated and tried to do too much himself when things weren’t working. He was consistently stymied because of the quality of his opponents, and failed to make the impact that his talent level could provide.
Eichel finished the tournament with a goal and three assists over five games. He didn’t have a bad tournament, but did not shine as brightly as many expected.
A day after being eliminated, BU was scheduled to start the second half of their season against defending champion Union College. Eichel wanted to play, but coach David Quinn wouldn’t let him, insisting that he get the rest that his BU teammates got when he was playing in the World Juniors.
Eichel will not play tonight for BU. He wanted to play. Coaches decision. Terriers host Union on @NBCSN tonight at 7 pm. Join us then.
— Dan Parkhurst (@ParkhurstDan) January 3, 2015
This past weekend, the Terriers had a pair of games in Madison, Wisconsin against the struggling Badgers. Coming in, the once proud Badgers had won just two games all season. There was no excuse for BU not to win both games, and handily.
Unfortunately, the Terriers failed to take their opponent seriously, and almost suffered a crippling loss in terms of the Pairwise rankings. They found themselves down 3-1 with less than three minutes remaining in the game. Only a furious comeback with two goals by Ahti Oksanen (one with three seconds left) saved them from disaster, resulting in a 3-3 tie.
Eichel had his quietest performance yet in a BU uniform, registering just one shot and no points.
If Friday night was his worst, Saturday may have been his best. After falling in a 1-0 hole, Eichel went in on a two-on-one with Evan Rodrigues. He held onto the puck and backed the defender below the hashmarks, then cut across the ice with incredible patience. He held onto the puck until both the goalie and defenseman were out of position, and deposited the puck in an empty net.
On his second goal (2:00 above), he found himself in his typical spot on the power play. As he moved towards a center point position, he ripped a quick wrist shot that caught Joel Rumpel off guard, putting BU up 3-1. Halfway through the third period, Eichel did the exact same thing, but instead his shot was tipped by Danny O’Regan in front for a 4-1 lead.
Four minutes later, Eichel and O’Regan found themselves on a shorthanded two-on-one. Eichel received the pass from the Wisconsin blueline as O’Regan was flying in towards the backdoor. Eichel threaded a perfect pass through the Wisconsin defender to a wide open O’Regan for an easy tap-in, his fourth point of the night.
Eichel finished the night with two goals and two primary assists. He was named Hockey East Rookie of the Week for the third time this season, and leads the NCAA in points (31) and points-per-game (1.72).
Up Next on the Jack Eichel Tracker: The Terriers have two big Hockey East matchups this weekend, both at home, against rival BC, and #6 UMass Lowell.
Previous Editions of the Jack Eichel Tracker
Part I: A Dazzling Debut (5 Assists vs. St. Thomas)
Part II: Matching McDavid (2 Goals, 2 Assists vs. UMass Amherst)
Part V: Head to Head with Hanifin (1 Goal, 3 Assists vs. BC & UConn)
Part VI: Manhandling Maine (2 Goals, 4 Assists vs. UConn & Maine [2 games])
Part VIII: Gearing Up for the WJC (2 Assists vs. RPI)