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NCAA Hockey: Players to Watch at Northeast Regional

Matt Dewkett

Manchester, NH -- The 2014-15 college hockey season has been the year of Eichel, and rightfully so, for the generational talent who has graced the sport with his skill and highlight reel plays all season.

Eichel and the Terriers headline the field at the Northeast Regional at the Verizon Wireless Arena, but there are several other players to keep an eye on if you're a fan heading there this weekend. The No. 3 seeded Golden Gophers of Minnesota have 15 NHL Draft picks alone.

Players to Watch - Northeast Regional

Jack Eichel, Fr., Center, Boston University (2015 Draft Eligible) - The nation's leading scorer and favorite to be selected No. 2 overall in the upcoming NHL Draft was the Hockey East Tournament MVP as well as the league's player and rookie of the year during the regular season. He's an effortless skater who has that extra gear to turn into overdrive and blow by defenders and change the pace going to the net. He has a world class shot and uncanny vision to distribute the puck and create plays that very few others can.

Matt Grzelcyk, Jr., Left Defenseman, Boston University (Boston Bruins) - The Charlestown, Mass. native has always been known for his skating and ability with the puck, but after recovering from a shoulder injury suffered last season, he's been a force all season in all three zones. The improvement shown defensively is almost unbelievable. His coverage and gap control has been better, his stick is improving and as his coach, David Quinn, said after the Hockey East Final, he plays through opposing forwards. In addition to his skill on the ice, he's the leader of the Terriers team that has four rookies and one sophomore on the blue line. Grzelcyk logs a ton of minutes for BU and will be the first man out in all situations.

Rob O'Gara, Jr., Right Defenseman, Yale (Boston Bruins) - Tasked with shutting down, or at least minimizing, Eichel is the Bulldogs' big left-shot right defenseman. A big blue liner, O'Gara played his prep hockey at Milton Academy just outside Boston. He has good vision and hockey IQ, the reason for his 15 assists on the season. He's really grown into his body over his nearly three years in New Haven.

Alex Lyon, Soph., Goaltender, Yale (Free Agent) - Four players on BU have scored more goals than the entire Yale team this season. It's no secret that the Baudette, Minn. native will have to play one of his best games of the season to keep the Bulldogs in the game. It helps to have a stout defense in front, but Lyon does have the best save percentage in the nation entering the NCAA Tournament.

Dominic Toninato, Soph, Center, Minnesota Duluth (Toronto Maple Leafs) - The Bulldogs' leading goal scorer can play reckless at times, drawing the ire of his fans, but he's a fun player to watch. He's big and he'll go into the dirty areas to fight for pucks. He has a quick release and knows where to be to find the puck in the scoring areas.

Alex Iafallo, Soph., Left Wing, Minnesota Duluth (Free Agent) - The Eden, NY native returns from injury after missing the past six games. His return will be big for the Bulldogs as it should give them more balance and depth. He's a great setup guy whose vision and ability with the puck allows him to find his teammates all over the ice.

Mike Reilly, Jr., Left Defenseman, Minnesota (Columbus Blue Jackets) - In a regional full of plenty of good defensemen, he might be the best of the bunch. The Gophers' leading scorer can really be an asset in all three zones. He's fast and such a good skater. He plays well defensively and can be physical at times. He's a high risk, high reward type of player with the puck.

Hudson Fasching, Soph., Right Wing, Minnesota (Buffalo Sabres) - Five players on the Gophers team have more points than the Burnsville, Minn. native, but watch how he skates and moves on the ice. The NTDP product just looks like a future pro. He's a two-way player that can really use his size and strength to his advantage when he's playing his best hockey.


Jeff Cox covers college, junior, high school and prep hockey, NCAA recruiting and NHL Draft prospects. Follow him on Twitter @JeffCoxSports.