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.
After a dominating 2-0 series win over Merrimack, the Terriers were set to face the UNH Wildcats in the Hockey East semifinals Friday night. But before then, Jack Eichel had some hardware to collect at the Hockey East Awards Banquet. He walked away with the awards for Best Player, Best Rookie, and was named to the First All Star Team.
— BU Men's Hockey (@TerrierHockey) March 20, 2015
Eichel is just the third freshman to ever win both Best Player and Best Freshman in the same season. The other two are some pretty good company: Paul Kariya and Brian Leetch.
Friday night, BU found themselves in a familiar spot in the first period, down 1-0 and not having the start they wanted. Despite being outshot 11-8 in the first, the Terriers entered the locker room tied 1-1 after one.
After a second period Chase Phelps goal, BU would be 20 minutes away from the Hockey East Finals. With six minutes left, Eichel went streaking down the wing and made an impressive individual effort to push the puck to Danny O’Regan in the offensive circle.
O’Regan found Evan Rodrigues in the slot, who got a good look that was stopped by UNH goalie Daniel Tirone. Tirone wasn’t able to corral the rebound and Eichel found the loose puck and slammed it home for the insurance marker.
Down 2 and needing offense quickly, UNH pulled their goalie with two minutes left. Evan Rodrigues carried the puck through the neutral zone and floated a backhander towards the empty net, but it rang off the post. It bounced right to Eichel in the goalmouth for an easy tap-in, Eichel’s second of the game, and a 4-1 BU win.
In the earlier game, the UMass Lowell Riverhawks defeated the University of Vermont to advance to the final to defend their Hockey East title.
BU got off to a much better start in the championship game, jumping out to a 2-1 lead after one period. Eichel played a part in both goals, assisting on the first. He got a clean zone entry with possession on the PP, and with the defense focused on him, made a quick pass to Matt Grzelcyk. It deflected off a Lowell stick and right to Grzelcyk who put it home past a helpless Kevin Boyle.
Eichel would score a beautiful goal himself two minutes later on a two-on-one. He showed incredible patience with the puck, absorbing a hit mid toe drag to hold onto the puck, and deposit it through Boyle’s five hole.
After two second period goals, BU found themselves in the driver’s seat, 20 minutes from their first Hockey East title since 2009. Lowell made it close at 4-2, but Jack Eichel would shut the door on the comeback attempt.
Collecting the puck in the neutral zone, he turned on the jets and went flying down the wing past the Lowell defense. He drove towards the net and as soon as Boyle moved with him, he opened up his five hole and Eichel slid a changeup through to make it 5-2.
That goal was his 66th point of the season, setting the new record for most points by a BU freshman. BU would go on to win 5-3 and win their third trophy of the season. The last time the Terriers won the Beanpot, Hockey East regular season title, and Hockey East playoffs was 2009. They also won the fourth and most important trophy that year, the National Championship.
Tournament MVP and BU's all-time leading freshman scorer Jack Eichel celebrates BU's win with the Lamoriello trophy. pic.twitter.com/KtQTiZobGG
— Hockey East (@hockey_east) March 22, 2015
Unsurprisingly, Eichel’s 11 points in just 4 Hockey East playoff games won him Tournament MVP. He was also announced as one of ten finalists for the Hobey Baker trophy to be awarded in April.
Up Next on the Jack Eichel Tracker: The Terriers were named the #1 seed (#3 overall) in the Manchester, NH regional of the NCAA Tournament. They will face off against the #4 Yale Bulldogs.
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])
Part XIV: Beanpot Champions (2 Assists vs. Notre Dame [2 games], Northeastern)
Part XV: Hobey Baker Race is Over (4 Goals, 7 Assists vs. Northeastern & Merrimack)
Bill Schoeninger is a Philadelphia Flyers writer and current Boston University student studying business. Coming to THW from Hometown Hockey, Bill follows and writes about the Flyers, Boston University Terriers, and NHL Draft prospects. Follow him on twitter @BSchoeninger17