AMHERST, MASS. -- Longtime observers of Jack Eichel have spoken glowingly of his extra gear. After Friday night's third period, UMass players, coaches and fans know about it too. The highly touted 2015 NHL Draft prospect struck for four points to blow the doors off a 2-1 second period advantage and give Boston University an 8-1 triumph in front of 4,288 at the Mullins Center.
With momentum tilting in favor of the Minutemen heading to the third period, the Terriers killed off the rest of the penalty kill before exploding for six unanswered goals, four of which Eichel had a hand in. It was a rousing start to the campaign for a young BU team looking to bounce back from a down year a season ago.
"Obviously it's two important league points. I didn't expect this," said second year BU head coach David Quinn. "We have some guys burying the puck. We put a lot of work into it [during the offseason]."
The Terriers drew first blood 12:22 into the game on a broken play in transition. A streaking Cason Hohmann sent a pass from the right side cross ice, but it was deflected fortuitously right to the stick of Robbie Baillargeon who wasted no time in banging it home. Evan Rodrigues picked up the other assist.
BU took a 2-0 lead midway through the second period on another goal in transition. After picking up a feed from Matt Lane in the neutral zone, Rodrigues cut into the zone down the left side. The senior toe-dragged past a UMass defender before dropping a pass back to Nikolas Olsson who whisked it home for his first collegiate goal.
Momentum swung the way of the Minutemen late in the second period when freshman defenseman Jake Horton's bomb from the point beat LaCouvee on a delayed penalty. The goal, coming with 47 seconds to play in the frame, got the home crowd back into the game, but UMass couldn't score on the ensuing power play that extended into the third period.
"Obviously a pivotal point was killing the penalty before getting two quick ones. All of a sudden we had momentum," said Quinn.
As so often happens, BU scooped back momentum from the killed penalty and regained its two-goal lead 1:54 into the final period. Eichel struck for his first collegiate goal as he skated into the zone, he stretched around to wrist the puck around a defender and past the glove of UMass goaltender Steven Mastalerz.
"Jack has a world class shot. He buried it," said Quinn, who said it's the type of impact he expects Eichel to have all season. "He's a special player. We all know that. He did some special things tonight," added the former Terrier defenseman.
An even more impressive move by Eichel gave the Terriers their first three-goal cushion of the evening just 46 seconds later. He used some pretty stick work to evade a UMass defenseman and send a perfect pass right on the stick of linemate Danny O'Regan who roofed it for a 5-1 lead.
Eichel's spectacular third period continued at the 6:02 mark as he entered the zone on a three-on-two odd man rush. He faked a pass before sliding the puck along the ice into the far corner of the net. It was his third point in a span of just 4:08.
The Terriers tacked on an insurance goal with 7:21 to play in the game on a near-impossible angle goal by Cason Hohmann after a pass down from Rodrigues. Eichel picked up the secondary assist that gave BU a 6-1 advantage.
A.J. Greer joined in on the fun at 17:56 for his first collegiate tally. The Kimball Union alum and fellow 2015 NHL Draft prospect snuck one short-side past UMass back-up goaltender Henry Dill for a 7-1 BU lead.
O'Regan capped off the night with his second absolute snipe of the period from nearly the same position in the slot. The junior, who sat out last weekend's exhibition contest, was wide open with the attention of most of the UMass defensemen towards Ahti Oksanen and Eichel.
"Danny's worked hard at his shot. Those two goals he scored tonight -- he couldn't score last year. You don't shoot a puck like that through osmosis. It takes a lot of hard work. He's put in the work and I'm happy to see him get rewarded," commented Quinn.
Lost in the lopsided victory was the play of freshman goaltender Connor LaCouvee, who got the last minute call to start in net. Junior incumbent Matt O'Connor suffered a lower body injury in practice Thursday. LaCouvee, a late addition to the recruiting class out of the BCHL, looked poised beyond his years as he kicked aside 31 of the 32 shots he faced.
"Our goalie played great. You win 8-1 and you don't mention your goalie. He bailed us out," explained Quinn, who mentioned the play got sloppy once the score became lopsided.
Jeff Cox covers college, junior and high school hockey, NCAA recruiting and NHL Draft prospects. Follow him on Twitter @JeffCoxSports.