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Eichel and McDavid continue race for No. 1

by Mike G. Morreale / NHL.com
BU center Jack Eichel (Photo: Noah Buchanan/BU Athletics)

Boston University center Jack Eichel doesn't have the look of a typical starry-eyed freshman.

He's basically been in his element since the day he walked on campus. It shows in the way he carries himself not only on the ice for Boston University coach David Quinn, but during a typical press conference when the questions come fast and furious.

Ditto for Erie Otters center Connor McDavid, who in three seasons in the Ontario Hockey League has really generated quite a fervor and excitement in northwestern Pennsylvania.

It's what makes both players so special and why fans and NHL scouts are looking forward to seeing them lead their respective teams during this season. McDavid and Eichel are expected to be the top two choices at the 2015 NHL Draft in Sunrise, Fla. Who goes first is the million dollar question.

Both players continued to live up to their tremendous billing over the weekend.

McDavid, who is riding a nine-game point streak to open the season for Erie (8-0-1), had one goal and four assists in victories against the Sudbury Wolves (3-2 on Oct. 17) and London Knights (6-2 on Oct. 18). McDavid leads the OHL with 25 points (eight goals, 17 assists) in nine games this season, and has 61 goals and 190 points in 128 career games. The Otters will next face the Niagara IceDogs on Wednesday at First Niagara Center in Buffalo, N.Y., at 7 p.m. ET.

Eichel, meanwhile, has played one regular-season game and two exhibition games at Boston University. Including the exhibitions, he has four goals and 12 points in three wins. The Terriers return to action on Friday against Michigan State at Agganis Arena in Boston at 7:30 p.m. ET.

In the second exhibition game of the season on Saturday, Eichel renewed acquaintances with the United States National Team Development Program Under-18 Team, the program he led in scoring during the 2013-14 season. Eichel scored two goals and had an assist on a line with juniors Danny O'Regan (one goal, two assists) and Ahti Okasanen (one goal, one assist) in a 6-4 victory in Boston.

"It's a lot of fun playing with Danny and Ahti," Eichel said. "It's nice to go to school with them every day and that creates chemistry not only on the ice but off. They're two unbelievable players. You see a play like Danny makes along the boards and being able to get the puck to me, and I get the puck to [Okasanen], who finds Danny back door on his goal. It was a really nice play."

When asked to describe his power-play goal 4:43 into the second period that gave the Terriers a 4-1 lead, Eichel explained how a new planned breakout paid off.

"It was a new power-play breakout and (junior captain) Matt Grzelcyk made a nice pass out of the zone; I just tried to move my feet and skate with it," Eichel said. "The coaches are always on us to attack on the rush and I saw a seam and saw their goalie cheating a little bit off his post so I tried to just zip one in there really quick. I got a fortunate bounce."

Expect Eichel and McDavid to get plenty more fortuitous bounces as the season progresses in their race to be No. 1.

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