Eichel's five points powers U.S. to rout of Finland

Thursday, 08.07.2014 / 8:02 PM | Adam Kimelman  - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- United States national junior team coach Mark Osiecki has talked about not wanting to install too much in the way of systems for his players during the National Junior Evaluation Camp.

But what he's put in so far the players certainly have embraced.

The top line of Jack Eichel, Alex Tuch and Tyler Motte combined for five goals and 12 points, and the U.S. rolled to a 9-1 win against Finland on Thursday. The win came one day after a 7-1 rout of Sweden.

"There's a lot of skill, a lot of things you can't teach," Osiecki said. "It's fun to work with these kids. These kids do a great job. I told them after the game it's a difficult game to continue playing and they played it the right way. You saw these kids act like they've done it before, very humble about it. They played the game the right way."

Eichel, a potential top-two pick at the 2015 NHL Draft, had one goal and four assists. Motte, a Chicago Blackhawks prospect, had a hat trick plus an assist. Tuch (Minnesota Wild) had one goal and three assists. In all 11 players had at least one point, including goaltender Brandon Halverson, who had an assist while also stopping 16 of 17 shots.

Finland goalie Kevin Lankinen, a 2015 draft prospect, allowed all nine goals on 42 shots.

Three of the four U.S. lines had goals, but it was the top trio again doing most of the damage on the scoreboard. Leading the way again was Eichel, who had three assists against Sweden and has eight points in two games.

"He's got an unbelievable skill level," Motte said. "That guy can do it all, from score to set guys up, kill penalties. I'm lucky to play with him. He's a hell of a player and I'm glad I can compete with a guy like that."

Eichel displayed his special skills in the first period, setting up goals by Tuch and Motte. At 5:04 he got the puck in the slot, spun and backhanded a pass to his left to a cutting Tuch for a goal. At 17:22 he got the rebound of his shot behind the Finland net and found Motte in front to make it 2-0.

The roll continued into the second period as Eichel set up Motte for his second of the game at 1:15. Kyle Connor, another 2015 draft prospect, added a power-play goal 25 seconds later. Eichel's goal at 10:03 made it 5-0.

Finland's Julius Vahatalo scored at 11:17 of the second. But 20 seconds into the third, Sonny Milano finished a drop pass from Dylan Larkin to make it 6-1, and 2:08 later John Hayden walked through the Finland zone to score a power-play goal.

Motte finished his hat trick off a faceoff play; Eichel pushed the puck forward on an offensive-zone draw and Motte stepped past a Finland skater and scored. Jack Dougherty closed the scoring to finish with one goal and two assists.

"He's obviously a great player," Eichel said of Motte. "He works so hard. He's great at hunting pucks. He's got a great release and a great shot. You try to get him the puck in areas he can find the back of the net and he did that three times."

Eichel and Motte were teammates in 2012-13 with the United States National Team Development Program Under-18 team, but rarely were linemates. However, Motte has found quick chemistry on the line.

"They're hard-working guys, a good group of guys," Motte said. "Lot of skill up there. You can consider it a first line with the caliber those players hard. Just trying to find a little chemistry. ... I was the beneficiary of them working hard [Thursday]. They put the puck on my stick and all I had to do was get it to the net."

Osiecki has a deeper background with Motte than some other players at the camp. As an assistant coach with the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League, the Blackhawks' affiliate, he worked with Motte during Chicago's rookie camp last month. Osiecki said it also helps that Motte is 19.

"When we put some of the lines together we were thinking by birth year, having an older guy on each line, and I think maturity does matter," Osiecki said.

Whatever the reason for it working, Motte hopes it keeps going the same direction.

"I wouldn't hate it," Motte said. "Those guys have a lot of skill and a good work ethic. I'm happy to be part of it and I'll be part of it for as long as I can."

Follow Adam Kimelman on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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