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Gaudreau, Eichel excited to join forces at World Cup

by Aaron Vickers / Calgary Flames

BUFFALO, NY -- Eagles and Terriers don’t necessarily get along.

But when former Boston College standout Johnny Gaudreau gets set to represent the under-23 Team North America at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, he could find Boston University alumnus Jack Eichel as his centre.

And because the two never actually crossed paths while in college, the rivalry can easily be put on hold.

“I don’t really know him that well because I didn’t play against him in college,” Gaudreau said. “I know he’s another college guy that was playing in Boston -- the same thing I was doing -- playing in Beanpot [Tournaments] and Hockey East playoffs and stuff like that. It’s exciting to see another young guy like that.”

Gaudreau and the Calgary Flames visit Eichel and the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center on Thursday.

“He’s strong on pucks and skilled and fast,” Gaudreau said. “You have to be aware of guys like that on the ice throughout the game. From what I see he is having a good season and you’ve got to try to contain him and make sure we keep him away from our net.”

Eichel will try to do the same to Gaudreau and Sean Monahan, who will join Eichel and Gaudreau on Team North America.

But come summer, Thursday’s opponents will quickly become allies.

“I know Johnny a lot better than I know Sean just from he went to BC and he works out at the same gym as I do in the summer so I know him a little bit from there,” Eichel said. “Obviously both are really great young players for this league. They’ve been so successful early in their career. It’s great to see. I’m happy to be on their side.

“You see some of the plays they make. Instead of being on the opposing side of things you want to be on their side. It should be fun. It’s going to be a great experience.”

As a freshman at Boston College, Gaudreau had 21 goals and 44 points in 44 games. He was named to Hockey East’s All-Rookie Team. As a sophomore, he had 21 goals and 51 points in 35 games, and was named Hockey East First All-American Team, First Team All-Star, and was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award.

As a junior, his final season before signing with the Flames, Gaudreau had 36 goals and 80 points in 40 games, and was named Hockey East First All-American Team, Player of the Year, and received the Hobey Baker in 2014.

Eichel spent the 2014-15 season at Boston Univeristy and won the Hobey Baker. He was the first freshman Hobey candidate in 12 years and joined Paul Kariya -- who won the award in 1993 -- as the only two skaters in NCAA Division I Men’s Hockey history to win the Hobey Baker as freshman.

He led the Nation in scoring with 24 goals and 67 points in just 38 games and was the Hockey East scoring champion, Rookie of the Year, Player of the Year, First Team Hockey East All-Star and a member of the All-Rookie team.

And, Gaudreau insisted, he wouldn’t hold Eichel’s school of choice against him.

“It’s great to see college guys doing so well in the league,” Gaudreau said. “As a younger guy it’s cool to see another younger guy doing so well. It’s exciting to get a chance to play against him tonight. We both got to win the Hobey Baker and we both played at BC and BU so we both have some similarities.

“It’s going to be fun.”

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