Erie Otters center Connor McDavid and Boston University center Jack Eichel, the projected top two picks at the 2015 NHL Draft, each returned to the ice for their respective teams this past week to resume their regular roles over the second-half stretch.
EICHEL VS MCDAVID
|Week (2 games)
||Week (3 games)
|2 g, 2 a, 4 pts
||3 g, 2 a, 5 pts
|Season stats (18 games)
||Season stats (21 games)
|10 g, 21 a, 31 pts
||19 g, 37 a, 56 pts
Each player was returning from participation in the 2015 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship in Montreal and Toronto.
McDavid, who was named to NHL.com's World Junior Championship All-Tournament Team following a gold medal-winning performance for Canada, wasted little time upon his return to the lineup when he scored a dazzling goal on Thursday in a 4-3 loss against the Sarnia Sting. He followed that up with a goal and two points in back-to-back wins against the London Knights on Friday (6-2) and Sunday (5-3).
McDavid has scored a goal in five straight for the Otters and has at least a point in the past six games.
"Connor found a way to be comfortable [in his role] at the world junior," NHL Network analyst Craig Button said. "It wasn't all on him. He controlled the things he needed to control and if he wasn't scoring it wasn't still about him because of the success of the team. It's all maturity."
Erie (29-9-3, 61 points), currently one point behind the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds for first place in the Western Conference of the Ontario Hockey League, has a home date Friday with the Kingston Frontenacs.
Eichel, who finished with one goal, four points, a minus-3 rating, 21 shots on goal and a 45-percent faceoff efficiency in five games as captain for the United States at the WJC, was held without a point in a 3-3 tie in his return to the Terriers lineup against the University of Wisconsin on Friday. He then broke out with two goals and four points in the rematch against the Badgers, a 6-1 victory in Madison, Wis., on Saturday.
Eichel and his first-line teammates at Boston University, junior Danny O'Regan and senior Evan Rodrigues, accounted for 10 points in the win against Wisconsin. Eichel also finished 23-for-38 (60 percent) in the faceoff circle in the two games for the Terriers (12-3-4).
"Jack is the best player in college hockey," Button said. "His personality says, 'Hey I'm a front-of-the-line guy not a back-of-the-line guy,' and I love that about him. I love the fact that he wants to be a difference maker in the game. He may not get the points or stats [like McDavid] but to me when the games are important and they are hard and you have to find that player, Jack wants to be that guy. He's always in the guts of the action and wants to make a difference."
The Terriers will next face rival Boston College at Agganis Arena on the campus of Boston University on Friday at 7 p.m. ET. Boston University won the earlier matchup this season, 5-3 on Nov. 7.