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Eichel helps Boston University win Beanpot

by Connor Mellas

BOSTON -- Jack Eichel didn't score the game-winning goal, but the Boston University forward helped his school win its first Beanpot Tournament in six years on Monday.

Eichel helped draw the hooking penalty that put B.U. on an overtime power play, then fought to dig a puck out of the corner. His teammates took care of the rest.

Captain Matt Grzelcyk scored 51 seconds into the extra period to give the Terriers a 4-3 victory against Northeastern University and their first Beanpot Championship since 2009.

Grzelcyk, a junior defenseman, led B.U. with two goals and was named Beanpot MVP.

Jack Eichel celebrates after helping Boston University defeat Northeastern University for the school's first Beanpot Championship since 2009. Eichel, the top point scorer in college hockey and a projected top-two pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, had the secondary assist on Matt Grzelcyk's overtime winner in a 4-3 victory. (Photo: Getty Images)

"You get into overtime and you get a power play, and we win a battle along the wall," B.U. coach David Quinn said. "A lot of people, when you think of power plays, you think about an overload or an umbrella, or what system you're going to use within your power play, but at the end of the day you've got to play hockey.

"You've got to win battles, you've got to shoot pucks quickly, and you've got to move pucks quickly. You know, we won a battle along the wall."

The win clinched Quinn's first Beanpot championship, and B.U.'s 30th. The Terriers defeated Harvard 4-3 in double overtime to reach the championship game.

Eichel, the top point scorer in college hockey and a projected top-two pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, had the secondary assist on Grzelcyk's game-winner and displayed moments of individual brilliance throughout the game.

B.U. (21-6-5) scored first when fourth-line center Mike Moran converted on a power play at 2:19, unleashing 10 minutes of frantic offense on each end. Racing behind Northeastern's (15-14-4) defense, Moran beat Northeastern goaltender Clay Witt stick side with a high wrist shot.

Northeastern quickly responded at 2:47. Carefully shielding the puck, sophomore John Stevens cut across the slot and beat B.U. goaltender Matt O’Connor with a screened shot to make it 1-1.

In the waning minutes of the first period, B.U. nearly took the lead on one of the prettiest plays of the game when Eichel stole the puck at Northeastern's blue line. As Rodrigues raced in for support, Eichel slid a no-look backhand pass through two defensemen, teeing it up for Rodrigues. The senior and alternate captain sent a hard shot on net, but Witt made a glove save.

"[Eichel's] speed is so intimidating to people, and when he starts getting that puck through the neutral zone, carrying it through the neutral zone, the other team is always aware of him," Quinn said. "He gives us a swagger. It's infectious."

Witt couldn't hold the Terriers off for much longer. Robbie Baillargeon put home a rebound from Cason Hohmann's low shot at 5:31 to put B.U. ahead 2-1. The Terriers continued to pressure Northeastern, and at 14:18 Grzelcyk received a pass from freshman forward Nikolas Olsson, took two strides, and sent a shot over Witt's glove for his first goal of the game.

"His two goals tonight were the direct result of an awful lot of hard work," Quinn said.

O'Connor made seven saves to keep Northeastern off the board in the second period.

With 10:42 remaining in the third, last year's Beanpot MVP, junior Kevin Roy, took a feed from Witt and rushed up the ice. Before B.U.'s defensemen could converge on him, the forward slipped between them and put a shot past O'Connor.

Less than two minutes after Roy's goal, Northeastern defenseman Dustin Darou made his way through a sea of B.U. jerseys and whacked away at the puck until he finally knocked it into the net to make it 3-3.

"In between the second and third period, our kids had believability and conviction that they were going to get it done, and that's what the chatter was," Northeastern coach Jim Madigan said. "So after the third period going into overtime, there was a lot of good karma in the locker room and then it abruptly ends the way it did, and the kids are just dismayed in how it ended."

Grzelcyk's game-winning goal was the 13th goal of his collegiate career. Each goalie made 30 saves, and Eichel finished minus-1 with six shots on goal.

"You don't win championships by accident," Quinn said. "We won a championship tonight and we're very fortunate against a great team in a great tournament. All four teams hovering around for the national tournament. When you come out on top, it feels awfully good."

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