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Bracco makes most of chance at Prospects Game

by Joe Yerdon

BUFFALO -- Jeremy Bracco may soon be a rival of Jack Eichel and Jordan Greenway, but Thursday they were teammates making things happen offensively.

Eichel scored a goal and set up Bracco for the first of his two goals, and Greenway had two assists when Team Grier defeated Team Olczyk 6-3 in the CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game at First Niagara Center.

Bracco welcomed the chance to line up with players he may eventually face as opponents.

"It was definitely great," Bracco said. "[Eichel's] a great player. It was a big thing for my success and [Jordan's] success. We worked for each other and played for each other, so that was definitely big for us."

Bracco and Greenway will play this season for the U.S. National Team Development Program Under-18 team, but Bracco is committed to Boston College and Greenway is headed to Boston University in 2015. Eichel is going to Boston University this fall.

"He's at the NTDP for now, so he's a good buddy of mine," Eichel said jokingly. "No, it was a lot fun. He's a great player to play with."

Eichel set up Bracco's first goal at 13:10 of the second period when he drew Team Olczyk goalie Ryan Larkin from his crease to challenge a shot. With Larkin out of position, Eichel found Bracco perched at the goal line and he snapped the puck into the net.

"I think on his own [Bracco's] a very good player," coach Mike Grier said. "He sees the ice extremely well, makes plays happen, and you can see he's not only a playmaker, he can score. A lot of guys on that first goal are going to panic when they get the puck on that sharp angle, but he took his time and buried it."

Bracco's second goal, a breakaway at 15:38 of the third period, extended Team Grier's lead to 5-2 after Greenway fed him a pass from the half-wall.

"I got lucky," Bracco said. "It bounced off, a great play by [Greenway] on the wall and I got lucky to come in. I usually go five-hole and I was kind of thinking that the whole way and [Larkin] kind of left that open for me, so I got lucky."

Things could've been a little awkward for the Freeport, N.Y., native on a line with players who could wind up being rivals, if not for the chemistry they developed throughout the game.

"We were messing around a little bit because Jordan is going to BU too, so they were kind of giving it to me," Bracco said. "It was a lot of fun and a great game to play in."

Bracco also played against potential Boston College teammates defenseman Noah Hanifin and forward Colin White, which helped give him a little extra incentive to play his best. With Hanifin expected to be a first-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, the battle was there to be had.

"I got to go up against him once out there," Bracco said. "He's obviously a tremendous player and he's going to have a great year this year."

Bracco's offensive skills helped earn him attention on a night that was more focused on one of his linemates, Eichel, who was named player of the game.

"I think he's a very good offensive player," Grier said of Bracco. "He reads the game well. … He has an ability to slow the game down. Even though he's not going that fast, he can slow it down and create space for himself. He's an impressive player."

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