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Eruzione shares high praise for U.S. hopeful Eichel

by Mike G. Morreale / NHL.com

BOSTON -- Mike Eruzione knows a little something about coming up big in clutch situations.

Jack Eichel, Boston University Terriers
(Noah Buchanan/BU Athletics)

He did it for the United States against Russia in "The Miracle on Ice" during the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y. Eruzione, who serves as Boston University's director of special outreach at his alma mater, was on hand Tuesday to witness the new breed of American hopefuls looking to earn a roster spot for their country at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship.

One player he didn't have to think too hard about was Boston University freshman Jack Eichel. On the way to leading the NCAA in scoring over the first half of the season with 27 points, Eichel has been coming up pretty big himself.

"He's just a great player and I'm happy he's here at BU and not somewhere else," Eruzione said. "He's a special talent. It's funny, all year long and wherever I went, people kept saying to me, 'You got Eichel coming in.'

"I was like 'Sure, OK.' You always hear about how these young kids are good players but after watching the first two or three practices, I said, 'Whoa, this kid is pretty good.'"

Eichel, who is considered to be a top-two pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, was one of 30 players strutting his stuff at Walter Brown Arena on the campus of BU at USA Hockey's selection camp that opened Tuesday.

"I met him just a few times while talking to him before games during the season, but not only is he a good player but he seems like a well-grounded kid and that's very important," Eruzione said. "When your best player is also the best guy on the team, that's a huge plus. We're fortunate not only to have a great player but a great person here. Our players really like playing with him and clearly the coaches like coaching him.

"He's brought us back in some ways to what BU was a few years ago. We have [other] great players here but he's made the great players even better players."

The Terriers (11-3-2) are No. 1 in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine College Hockey Poll for games ending Dec. 14.

Eruzione was asked what advice he would give Eichel heading into the second half of the season and under the microscope of every NHL scout.

"I would just tell him to enjoy it, have fun with it," Eruzione said. "Clearly he's a great hockey player but when you're on the ice you don't look or think about anything like that because you're just playing. What happens around him he can't control that, he can only control when he steps on the ice and how he plays, and I guess how he behaves and handles the social events and media which he seems to do anyway. My advice is to go out and be Jack Eichel, have fun and enjoy what you have ahead of you."

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