Part I: A Dazzling Debut (5 Assists vs. St. Thomas)
Part II: Matching McDavid (2 Goals, 2 Assists vs. UMass Amherst)
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 frequently throughout the year. Posts will be done weekly or bi-weekly, depending upon BU’s schedule.
Jack Eichel Tracker: Facing Former USNTDP Teammates
Two games into his BU career, Eichel had accumulated nine points. Just as Connor McDavid has torn up the OHL, Eichel has made his presence known in the NCAA very quickly. In their final exhibition game before getting into the meat of their schedule, the Terriers faced the USNTDP U18 Team on Saturday night in Agganis Arena.
The U18 team presented a unique challenge for the Terriers. They were by far the youngest, most inexperienced group the Terriers had faced yet, but boasted the most talent. The entire roster is littered with top tier NCAA recruits that have committed to traditional college powerhouses. The US roster included LW Jordan Greenway and D Charles McAvoy, who are scheduled to arrive as freshmen at BU in the fall of 2015. Greenway was ranked as an “A” prospect by Central Scouting Services in their preliminary rankings for the 2015 draft, and is projected to be a 1st round pick.
Facing the USNTDP also meant Eichel would be lining up head-to-head with their first line center, Auston Matthews. According to Craig Button, Matthews is the favorite to go #1 overall in the 2016 Draft, and is in the same tier as Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel. How would Eichel respond to the increased talent level trying to defend him?
The USNTDP played the Terriers to their closest game this season, with BU registering the win by a score of 6-4. Compared to their first two games, which were won by a combined score of 20-2, this one was a nail-biter.
— USCHO.com (@USCHO) October 17, 2014
Eichel figured prominently into the scoring, making his presence known six minutes into the game. Junior Dan O’Regan was able to win a puck battle in the offensive zone, and dished the puck off to Eichel. Eichel then found linemate Ahti Oksanen in open ice with a quick pass. Oksanen surveyed the ice, and found O’Regan crashing the backdoor of the USNTDP net to put BU up 1-0. The line’s growing chemistry and passing skills were on top display on the goal.
In the second period, Eichel had a shift to remember. As Dan O’Regan worked the puck in the corner, Eichel found some open space in the high slot. O’Regan hit him with a pass, and Eichel attempted to make a quick return pass to O’Regan. However, the pass ricocheted off a defender’s stick, and into the net. It was lucky, but as the saying goes, good players and teams make their own luck.
Just over a minute later, BU went to the power play. As they broke the puck out of their zone, captain Matt Grzelcyk hit Eichel with a beautiful stretch pass. Eichel went streaking down the right wing with space in front of him, and snapped a shot that beat goaltender Luke Opilka to the glove side. After the game, Eichel noted that the Terriers had been working on a new power play breakout in practice last week, and it appears they executed it perfectly on Saturday.
In the second half of the game, Eichel did not register a point, but his line did add another goal in the third period. Eichel finished the game with 2 goals and an assist against his former team.
After the game, Eichel offered his thoughts on playing his former team. He noted that it was a good test for the team, and was quick to give credit to the US team’s skill. He also offered his thoughts on the budding chemistry of the OREO line, and how their hard work in practice has translated to success in games.
When asked about his dynamic first line, coach David Quinn had nothing but great things to say about the group.
“That line, there’s a little bit of everything on that line,” Quinn said. “I should say a lot of everything on that line. I love what I see, but I think their best hockey is ahead of them. I think they can really be a line that’s going to be difficult to match up against and I think they’re just scratching the surface.”
Up Next on the Jack Eichel Tracker: Eichel and the Terriers will face off against Michigan State on Friday, and the #14 ranked Michigan Wolverines on Saturday, both in Boston. This weekend should be the toughest one yet for the Terriers as they play twice in one weekend for the first time this season.
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