BOSTON -- The U.S. World Junior Team has taken over the Boston University campus for their pre-tournament training camp this week, but the two collide on Friday night as the top-ranked Terriers take on their visitors in an exhibition contest.
There is added significance to the contest on both sides, but especially for the Terriers as they throwback to play their first game at Walter Brown Arena in a decade.
Freshman center Jack Eichel will also be suiting up in opposite colors for the game as he looks to crack the U.S. roster for the second straight year. The North Chelmsford, Mass. native - who will be wearing the captain's 'C' for the Americans - is no stranger to the rink, however, and is very excited for the opportunity to be a part of a historic night.
"I haven't really ever imagined this until I saw it on the schedule," Eichel said. "It's definitely going to be a fun game. I'm sure there will be a lot of people here and it should be kind of weird playing my own team, but it's just another game."
It will be a bit different for the rookie to be looking across the ice at linemates Danny O'Regan and Ahti Oksanen, but he jokes about the possibility of O'Regan pulling something out of the bag of tricks and calling for the puck.
"Who knows? That's definitely something Danny would do," Eichel said with a smile.
In response, the San Jose Sharks prospect from Needham, Mass. (who will take faceoffs opposite him, taking Eichel's usual slot) also had a joking response.
"I don't know about that," he laughed. "Me and Jack have a lot of jokes together but I don't know if I'm going to go that far. ... It depends on what stage of the game. If we need a goal, I might have to do it."
While there is some business to take care of for the U.S. team ahead of next week's IIHF World Junior Championship and a win at stake for both sides, BU head coach David Quinn is excited to take a trip down memory lane and coach in the building in which he played.
"There's a lot of things that make this unique, Quinn said, "but it's going to be a fun night and fun to be back in Walter Brown to rekindle a lot of memories for former players, BU hockey fans and me myself."
One thing that won't be welcomed is having to face Eichel as his 19 assists and 27 points, tied for the national lead with Bentley junior Andrew Gladiuk, move to the other bench.
"It's going to be neat? It's not going to be fun," Quinn said laughingly.
Junior captain Matt Grzelcyk does not have a strategy or secret to stopping him, but hopes for a bit of luck.
"I just hope he hits me," Grzelcyk said, "or hopes he hits me in the shin pad with a shot or dumps it in or something. I'm not really sure what the game plan is on that because we've seen him go by just about four guys at once. It should be fun."
Grzelcyk is a Charlestown, Mass. native and Boston Bruins prospect as well, so there is plenty of history in Walter Brown for him as he practiced in the building during his youth days.
To finish it off with a laugh, he had one more comment on the Eichel situation as he speculated the game plan presented to the team before the game by Quinn.
"I think guys are pretty well aware we don't want to hurt him because we want him for the second half of the season," he said.
As the top-ranked team in college hockey, there is little room for risk.