Eichel is more than meeting expectations

Thursday, 08.07.2014 / 8:22 PM | Adam Kimelman  - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- Before he arrived at the National Junior Evaluation Camp this week, United States national junior team coach Mark Osiecki said there would be high expectations placed on center Jack Eichel.

"Jack Eichel is an offensive player and we have to hold him accountable offensively," Osiecki said. "He's a special player and we have to lean on him offensively to be that difference maker, be a player that can make everyone around him better; offensively for sure."

Eichel has done just that in the past two days. He had one goal and four assists in a 9-1 win against Finland on Thursday, one day after he had three assists in a 7-1 defeat of Sweden. In the game against Sweden he helped linemate Alex Tuch to a hat trick. He did the same for his other linemate, Tyler Motte, against Finland.

With eight points in two games, it's clear Eichel has taken Osiecki's words to heart.

"He has a lot of expectations for me," Eichel said. "I just have to do the little things and try to make a difference every time I'm on the ice. Doesn't mean I have to score a goal or get an assist every time I'm on the ice. Just try to make a difference in some way and impact the team in a good way."

He's done that since camp started, but the past two games obviously stick out.

"Earlier in the week I wasn't really finding the back of the net or getting the points that I wanted," Eichel said. "You just have to be patient, stick to your game. Obviously my linemates have been a really big part in the success the last two games. The coaches have been really great as well, putting us in good situations. I think we've done a lot of little things and we just have to keep working on that."

His teammates have tried not to watch as fans, but some said it can be tough.

"It's like, wow," Dylan Larkin said. "As a player watching him you kind of go out there and think maybe I can do that, he makes it look so easy but no. He's a special player. Just to watch him on the bench and play with him, it's been fun."

Motte and Eichel were teammates in 2012-13 with the United States National Team Development Program Under-18 team but rarely played together. Now that Motte has gotten a taste of life with Eichel, he's not ready to let go.

"He has 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."

Follow Adam Kimelman on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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