When Jack Eichel went back to retrieve a pass from teammate Brandon Fortunato to start the rush up ice as his team enjoyed a five-minute power play in overtime, it seemed everyone in attendance knew something special would happen. The freshman sensation and highly touted NHL Draft prospect burst up the left side, and without breaking stride, he snapped off a precision guided missile that went into the far side of the net past Maine goaltender Sean Romeo to give Boston University a 3-2 come from behind victory over the Black Bears.
Including his primary assist in the third period on Ahti Oksanen's goal, 13 of Eichel's 17 points have come in the final period of regulation or overtime. So on top of his unworldly speed, shot, stick skills and reach, the North Chelmsford, Mass. native has that extra gear that all great players possess. Eichel got off to a slow start on Friday night, but about midway through the first period, he came alive. He was absolutely dominant over his last four or five shifts of the opening 20 minutes, helping his line get off six shot attempts in one particular sequence.
It's hard to deny that when Jack Eichel plays at full speed he might be nearly impossible to defend. Maine bench boss Red Gendron did the best he could to get his top line of Devin Shore, Blaine Byron and Connor Leen out against Gendron, but it wasn't always possible with BU getting the last change on home ice.
"It's my humble opinion that Jack Eichel, if he was old enough, would be playing in the National Hockey League. There were times tonight that he was pretty tough to stop. That's why people are talking about him potentially being the very first pick in the draft. He's a special player," commented Gendron.
Thankfully for Boston University and college hockey fans, Eichel is too young to be in the NHL this year. He just turned 18 last month and will be a first time eligible for the 2015 NHL Draft.
"I think Jack Eichel is one hell of a hockey player and I'm just glad he's playing at BU right now," said BU coach David Quinn.
The well-spoken Eichel exudes confidence and all the traits NHL scouts desire of top prospects on and off the ice. His confidence on the ice is easy to see as he lets the play come to him. As fast as he is and as capable as he is to make things happen quickly, he has an innate ability to slow the game down and wait to make the perfect play.
He's only nine games into his freshman season, playing for one of the most storied programs in NCAA history, but it's not too early to say it. Jack Eichel is destined for greatness.
Jeff Cox covers college, junior and high school hockey, NCAA recruiting and NHL Draft prospects. Follow him on Twitter @JeffCoxSports.