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McDavid, Eichel continue to impress, lead their teams

by Mike G. Morreale /

Erie Otters captain Connor McDavid, No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting's midterm ranking of the top North American skaters eligible for the 2015 NHL Draft, has his team in the semifinal round of the Ontario Hockey League playoffs.

Boston University freshman Jack Eichel, No. 2 on Central Scouting's midterm ranking, has helped his team reach the NCAA Frozen Four at TD Garden in Boston.

Each player refuses to see his season come to a close prior to the Wednesday release of NHL Central Scouting's final rankings of the top 210 North American skaters. McDavid had three goals and nine points in Erie's 4-1 best-of-7 quarterfinal-round series win against the Sarnia Sting this past week. He had a goal and three points in a 7-0 victory in Game 5 on Friday.

Eichel had one assist and won 54 percent of his faceoffs in victories against Yale University and the University of Minnesota-Duluth in the Northeast Regional as Boston University advanced to the NCAA Frozen Four for first time since winning its fifth national title in 2009. The Terriers will play the University of North Dakota on Thursday at 8:30 p.m. ET.

Eichel was named one of three finalists for the 2015 Hobey Baker Award as college hockey's top player. He is looking to become the first freshman to win the award since University of Maine forward Paul Kariya in 1993.

The Otters will play against the London Knights in the OHL semifinal round that will begin later this week. The series will feature the top three point producers in the OHL this season in McDavid (120 points), Otters center Dylan Strome (129 points) and Knights center Mitchell Marner (126 points).

It seems the longer McDavid's season goes, the crazier his adoring fans become to catch a glimpse of the future NHL star.

"It seems like Beatlemania," Otters director of broadcasting and media relations Aaron Cooney told the Erie Times. "Some of these people are absolutely nuts. There are people that go above and beyond and do whatever they can to get [close to him]."

Still, McDavid has made it a point to give back to the fans whenever possible.

"You have that responsibility to make sure you're giving back because without fans, there's no hockey," McDavid said. "The fans are the game."

Jack Parker, the former Boston University coach who recruited Eichel, was a guest on WGR 550 sports radio in Buffalo on Friday to talk about the projected generational-type forward.

"His poise and his ability to just get things done out there at the most opportune times is something you don't see very much in a freshman," Parker said. "I think Eichel is right up there as one of the best players to ever play at BU and without question one of the best NHL prospects. I think he's the best freshman to play in Hockey East since Paul Kariya."

Parker has been equally impressed with Eichel's demeanor off the ice and in front of the media.

"I know there's never been a player entering BU with the hype he had coming in and what he's had to go through this season," Parker said. "Sometimes that can take away from your relationship with your teammates and they might ask, 'Who's this kid getting all the ink?' He's handled all that and is a great teammate. His poise and ability to make the most of everything out there at the most opportune time is something you don't see very often."

Parker, who has helped groom and mentor many collegians who eventually became standout NHL players, was asked if he believed Eichel would play in the NHL in 2015-16.

"It depends on who drafts him and what their attitude is towards him," he said. "I know he's not 100 percent against coming back to school. But my thoughts are there's no sense in leaving BU to play [in the American Hockey League]. But if you're going to play [in the NHL] then leave BU. No matter when an NHL team gets him, he'll be an impact player for sure."


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