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Preview: Merrimack Needs to Limit Space for Eichel, BU

Matt Dewkett

Jack Eichel scored at least a point in his first 10 collegiate hockey games before last Tuesday when he was held off the score sheet in Boston University's 3-2 overtime loss to Harvard. It was the first of two games in which he was held scoreless in less than a week.

Having seen Eichel and the Terriers eight times this season it has become increasingly clear that there is really no way to defend the 2015 NHL Draft phenom, but giving him too much respect -- too much time and space -- is certainly not the answer.

No team is really going to shut Eichel down completely. He's just way too talented. He still created scoring chances in losses to Harvard and Dartmouth last weekend despite going without a point. But, if there's any team and opposing building that could trip up Eichel it's Friday's game at Merrimack.

Lawler Rink has been a difficult place for opposing teams to play over the years. It has tripped up more than a few top teams even when Merrimack was a bottom dweller. It's a small rink with a low ceiling and as more than a few opposing coaches have said, the pace of play just seems to be quicker at Merrimack. The puck seems to move quicker and players seem to be right on each other.

Merrimack, 7-1-0 at Lawler Rink so far this season, has yet another chance to make a statement with a win over Boston University. The Warriors might not completely contain Eichel, but Mark Dennehy's squad needs to set the pace of play right away. Forecheck hard, play with intensity and make it difficult for BU to breakout and set up offensively.

Friday's game at Lawler Rink can be seen locally on WBIN-TV and nationally on Fox College Sports and ESPN3. Saturday, the series moves to Agganis Arena. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. both nights.

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