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: Beanpot Champs
This past weekend proved to be a busy, and eventful one for Eichel and the Terriers. They had two home games against Notre Dame, and would finally play the long-awaited Beanpot finals against Northeastern on Monday.
Coming into the series, the Fighting Irish were 8-6-4 in Hockey East play compared to BU’s 13-3-2. The Irish were no doormat, but BU should have had a good chance to skate away with at least one win, if not two.
After Notre Dame took a 1-0 lead four minutes into the second on Friday, BU responded thanks to a great individual effort from Eichel. He gathered the puck in his own zone, and went barreling through the neutral zone’s open ice. He made a beautiful between-the-legs toe drag to drive around the Irish defender on the outside, and got a shot on net that Notre Dame goalie Cal Petersen could not corral.
A battle ensued in front of the net, and BU’s Nick Roberto was able to find the loose puck to put it in and tie the game.
It would be a relatively quiet night for the Eichel line otherwise as they registered only three combined shots on goal, a season-low. Evan Rodrigues would add a goal early in the third, but Notre Dame tied it with four minutes remaining in the game.
Despite outshooting Notre Dame 13-5 in the final frame, the scoring ended there, and the game finished in a 2-2 tie.
Looking forward to another great Autism Speaks Night here at Agganis. Our sixth jersey of the season! pic.twitter.com/dWcOEhp0wK
— BU Men's Hockey (@TerrierHockey) February 21, 2015
On Saturday, the Irish were opportunistic and took full advantage of their chances. They found themselves up 2-1 after two periods, despite being outshot 27-17. One was a power play goal, and they would add a second power play marker early in the third after Eichel took a roughing penalty after the second period had ended.
The Terriers battled back and made it interesting thanks to a power play goal from junior captain Matt Grzelcyk. After a shot from the point was deflected wide, Eichel controlled the puck below the goal-line. Moving behind the net, he dished a nice backhand pass to Grzelcyk, who had snuck in low while the Irish penalty killers were preoccupied with Eichel.
It wouldn’t be enough, however, and the Terriers fell by a score of 3-2. Eichel finished the weekend with two assists. Despite the fact that BU outshot Notre Dame 82-41, they took just one point out of the weekend. One reason for the disappointing result was the lack of production from the power play. BU converted just one of nine chances (11.1%), a far cry from their season average of 24.8%.
The Terriers would need a short memory because they would play their third game in four days on Monday against a scorching hot Northeastern squad. 14-3-3 in their last twenty games, the Huskies were hungry and looking to win their first Beanpot since 1988. Other than the World Juniors, it would be the biggest game of Eichel’s young career.
Majority of NHL clubs at today's Beanpot tourny…Leafs (Nonis) and Oilers (MacTavish) included. Eichel and Hanifin drawing the crowd…
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) February 23, 2015
The game proved to be an incredibly even, back-and-forth match. BU got off to a quick start two minutes in when Mike Moran scored on a breakway. Northeastern would answer immediately with a goal of their own 28 seconds later.
BU appeared to have a stranglehold on the game in the second when they increased their lead to 3-1 after 40 minutes. The Huskies proved very resilient, however, and battled back with two goals of their own in the third to send the game into overtime.
At the end of regulation, the score was 3-3 and the shots were 33-33. Eichel didn’t figure into any of the first three BU goals, but his line was a force all night (12 combined shots), and his skating abilities were on full display.
— Andy Levangie (@AndyLevang) February 24, 2015
Taking the opening faceoff of overtime, Eichel won the draw back to his defensemen. They regrouped and gave it to Eichel, who went barreling up the ice. He used his speed to drive wide and forced Northeastern defenseman Matt Benning to hook him to prevent him from having an open shot. Nine seconds into OT, and BU was headed to the power play.
Less than halfway through the PP, a scrum ensued along the near boards. The puck was tied up in multiple skates, but it finally squirted out to Eichel who quickly passed it to Rodrigues at the point. He went cross-point to Matt Grzelcyk, who blasted it past Northeastern goalie Clay Witt for the win, and BU’s first Beanpot championship since 2009.
Chaos ensued, and the Terriers began their celebration, which left us with this memorable shot:
Eichel still leads the NCAA in points with 49, five ahead of teammate Evan Rodrigues.
Up Next on the Jack Eichel Tracker: The #4 Terriers will finish the regular season with a home-and-home series with the same Northeastern Huskies. They need one point to clinch the top seed in the Hockey East playoffs.
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)
Part X: Power Play Maven (1 Goal, 2 Assists vs. BC & UMass Lowell)
Part XI: Money in Overtime (2 Goals vs. Vermont [2 games])
Part XIII: Separating From the Pack (1 Goal, 3 Assists vs. UNH [2 games])