It's a rivalry that is almost a century old, but when Boston University and Boston College meet Friday night at Conte Forum, two teenagers will take center stage in one of college hockey's most anticipated regular season games.
BU freshman forward Jack Eichel will go up against BC rookie defenseman Noah Hanifin in an individual matchup featuring a pair of prospects both destined for the top five of the 2015 NHL Draft.
The BC-BU rivalry is accustomed to super stars and student-athletes ready for the spotlight of the NHL, but Eichel and Hanifin are a special combination. Eichel just turned 18 last month while the 17 year-old Hanifin accelerated to play college hockey a year early.
Almost every single draft ranking and mock draft have the local pair going in the top five of next June's NHL Draft in Miami. The BC-BU rivalry has had its share of players from outside New England, but what makes the battle of Commonwealth Ave. so special is the connection many locals have to the rivalry.
Hockey-playing kids throughout Massachusetts watch the Beanpot and dream of playing for one school or the other. That's what adds to the intrigue of Eichel and Hanifin who hail from North Chelmsford and Needham, respectively.
Eichel has his own rivalry going with Connor McDavid of the Erie Otters for the number one overall pick in the draft, but he has also traded playful barbs with Hanifin including at September's USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game.
Friday's game, the 266th all-time meeting between the two teams, can be seen nationally on NBC Sports Network with puck drop slated for 8 p.m.
Jack Eichel, RC, 6-2/194, 10/28/96 - A dynamic offensive talent with a second gear. He has a long stride that looks effortless, but he has an incredible burst as well as elite closing speed. He can get a shot off quickly and accurately, but his length and reach make him that much more difficult to defend. His vision and poise allow combined with his ability to draw attention from opposing defenders frees up space for his teammates. Countless times early this season he's forced an opposing defender to come to him which has allowed for an easy pass to a wide open linemate.
Noah Hanifin, LD, 6-3/205, 1/25/97 - An elite defenseman at both ends of the ice, he is a world-class skater with the ability to start and stop, cut through traffic and join the rush. He's got amazing vision with and without the puck. He reads plays very well. He's good one-on-one. He's poised, has good size and has an unbelievable amount of upside on the blue line. Seeing him in action again Wednesday night just reinforced the opinion that he is the best defenseman in Hockey East even as a 17 year-old freshman.
Jeff Cox covers college, junior and high school hockey, NCAA recruiting and NHL Draft prospects. Follow him on Twitter @JeffCoxSports.