The opposition may design creative ways to keep Jack Eichel from generating quality shots on net, but it won't ever discourage him from setting up an open teammate.
| Jack Eichel, BU Terriers (Jim Pierce/BU Athletics)
Eichel, a projected top-two pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, proved that point Saturday in a 4-2 victory against Merrimack College before 4,366 fans at Agganis Arena in Boston. Boston University is 10-3-2.
The Terriers top center, who has scored just once in the past five games (2-2-1), was limited to one shot against Merrimack on Saturday. The 18-year-old instead set up linemate Danny O'Regan three times to help him notch his first collegiate hat trick. Eichel finished the game with four assists.
O'Regan said after the game it isn't hard playing with Eichel, a chess master on ice. The Terriers top line of Ahti Oksanen, Eichel and O'Regan, a 2012 fifth-round choice (No. 138) of the San Jose Sharks, accounted for 16 of the team's 46 shots on goal.
"You just kind of have to get to the right spot," O'Regan told Bostonglobe.com. "I know [Eichel's] going to go around a couple of people and find me. I just have to be patient and go to the right areas. He's got the ability that nobody else in the league has to just skate around people. I just keep it simple, try to get him the puck with speed and he's always looking to give it back."
O'Regan scored his first goal when he collected a pass from the left circle in the slot from Eichel. He scored his second when Eichel made a cross-ice pass to John MacLeod, who took a shot from the right circle that deflected off O'Regan into the net. Eichel fed fellow freshman Brandon Hickey from the right circle to the slot for his third assist of the game, before helping O'Regan cap his big night when he fed him in the slot off a nice pass from the left corner.
All in a day's work for NHL Central Scouting's A-rated skater from Hockey East. Eichel now has eight goals and leads his team with 17 assists, 25 points and a plus-20 rating in 15 games. Boston University will close out the first half of its schedule on Dec. 13 when it visits Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., at 7 p.m. ET.
Meanwhile Erie Otters center Connor McDavid has missed the past 11 games while recovering from a fracture in his right hand sustained Nov. 11. McDavid is still considered by many to be the No. 1 pick in the 2015 Draft.
Without McDavid, Erie has won six of 11 games while receiving production throughout the lineup. Despite his absence, McDavid still ranks second in the league with 51 points (16 goals, 35 assists) in 18 games. He also has a plus-34 rating.
McDavid and Eichel were invited to selection camp by their respective countries for participation in the much anticipated 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship set to begin Dec. 26. McDavid is one of 29 players on the Canadian roster and Eichel is one of 30 invites for the United States.