Jack Eichel Tracker: Hobey Baker Race is Over

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: Give Him the Hobey

After a thrilling Beanpot victory, the Terriers were faced with two more matchups with the Northeastern Huskies, needing one point or a BC loss to clinch the Hockey East regular season title. Clearly eager for revenge, the Huskies jumped all over the Terriers in the first period of Friday’s matchup. They led 3-0 in the first before BU answered with two of their own in a wild and sloppy first that ended in a 3-2 Northeastern lead.

On BU’s second goal, Jack Eichel had a beauty of a primary assist to find Evan Rodrigues for the power play goal. He made a pass through the entire Northeastern box to a pinching Rodrigues on the back side to put the Terriers within one.

Northeastern came back with another three goals again, and Matt O’Connor was pulled in what was his worst performance of the season. Eichel added a second assist as BU mounted another comeback. Manning the point on the PP, he found Dan O’Regan down low, who passed it to Ahti Oksanen for the goal from the slot.

Despite two furious comebacks, the Terriers fell by a score of 6-5. After BC beat Notre Dame the same night, the Terriers still needed another point to clinch the top seed in Hockey East playoffs.

After a sloppy first Friday, the Terriers came out looking sharp and determined on Saturday night. Eichel got the scoring started with a shorthanded tally eight minutes in. Using his speed to drive wide on the defenders, he centered a pass intended for Dan O’Regan that went off a Northeastern defender and past Clay Witt for the 1-0 lead.

BU continued to push the pace, finishing the first period with a commanding 4-1 lead. Eichel would add two more points on the night, with the first coming on a 5-on-3 power play. With Northeastern’s defenders scrambling, Matt Grzelcyk set up Eichel with what looked like a gimme one-time goal that ended up going wide. Luckily for BU, it bounced right to Oksanen for an easy tap-in.

His third point of the night came on another power play with less than two minutes remaining. Eichel walked the puck down the boards, and fired a quick wrist shot that got through traffic, and gave BU the 6-1 win.

The win clinched the Hockey East regular season title, and gave BU a bye in the first round of Hockey East playoffs. After a two-week break, the Terriers would face the Merrimack Warriors in a best-of-three matchup.

Clearly the superior team, BU did not waste time or give their opponent any hope with one of their sloppy starts. Merrimack got the first goal, but BU answered a minute later, leading in shots 18-4 after the first.

They poured it on in the second, scoring four goals on 20 more shots, leading 38-15 in shots and 5-1 on the scoreboard after two.

Eichel earned a secondary assist when he sprung Rodrigues and O’Regan on an odd-man rush. Rodrigues drove wide and made a great pass to O’Regan, who went fore-hand-backhand for an easy goal. Seven minutes later, Eichel jumped on a loose puck in the crease for a tap-in, game winning goal.

Eichel would add another goal on a 5-on-3 power play in the third. With Merrimack’s defenders collapsed in front of their own net, Rodrigues found Eichel at the dot. He made no mistake, firing it off the back bar and in. BU would go on to win 6-2, crushing Merrimack in shots 46-19.

Looking for the series clincher on Saturday, the Terriers showed the same determination and dominated their opponent.

The first ended with no scoring, but BU led in shots 18-9. Eichel showed incredible patience on BU’s first goal, a 2-on-1 shorthanded break. He waited for the Merrimack defender to go down, toe-dragged around him, and found Hohmann for the tap-in.

For his second assist of the night, Eichel played the puck to Brandon Fortunato at the point. Fortunato wheeled around the boards and behind the net, then found O’Regan for a one-timer in tight for a 3-0 lead. Eichel added an improbable third assist when he won a faceoff in the defensive zone on the PK. With Merrimack’s goalie pulled, Matt Grzelcyk’s clearing attempt from his own goal-line found the empty net.

Cason Hohmann would add another empty netter, BU’s third shorthanded goal of the game, to seal a dominating 5-0 victory.

Between the four games, Eichel finished with four goals and seven assists. He’s opened up a 7 point lead in the scoring race (61 total), and is 9 points above the closest non-Terrier, Jimmy Vesey.

If there was ever a question as to whether Eichel would become the first freshman since Paul Kariya to win the Hobey, there isn’t anymore. The award is his, and he absolutely deserves it.

Up Next on the Jack Eichel Tracker: The Terriers will play in the Hockey East semi-finals on Friday night, with their opponent depending upon the results of Sunday’s games. Sitting 4th in the Pairwise rankings, they have essentially locked up a bid to the NCAA tournament.

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 III: Torching His Former Team (2 Goals, 1 Assist vs. USNTDP)

Part IV: Going Streaking (2 Goals, 3 Assists vs. Michigan State, Michigan, and Providence [2 games])

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 VII: Peaks & Valleys (1 Goal, 5 Assists vs. Harvard, Colgate, Dartmouth & Merrimack [2 games])

Part VIII: Gearing Up for the WJC (2 Assists vs. RPI)

Part IX: Back On Top (2 Goals, 2 Assists vs. Wisconsin [2 games])

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 XII: UMass’s Worst Nightmare (2 Goals, 5 Assists vs. UMass Amherst, Harvard & UMass Lowell)

Part XIII: Separating From the Pack (1 Goal, 3 Assists vs. UNH [2 games])

Part XIV: Beanpot Champions (2 Assists vs. Notre Dame [2 games], Northeastern)