►USHR reports that approximately 20 NCAA schools approached Eichel, but that BU and BC were his finalists. The 6’1, 175 right-shot center will be a junior in high school this season, arriving on Comm. Ave. in 2014 as a 17 year old with close friend MacLeod. His NHL draft year is 2015.
He was USHR’s pick as “the best player in camp” at last summer’s Select 15 Festival in Rochester, NY, despite a broken toe. He earned the same ranking two months ago in the spring Beantown Classic Pre-Draft Division.
USHR goes on to quote Eichel’s Junior Bruins coach Chris Masters who reported that Eichel’s game took off during the latter part of his initial Empire League season (2010-11), noting his overtime goal in the Tier III Junior B national semis against the Long Island Royals, who skated mostly ’92s and ‘93s. Masters added:
“In my opinion, of all the players who have been through the Junior Bruins organization, he has the potential to be the best of all. He does everything so well. He shoots it better than everyone. He thinks it better than everyone. He’s an effortless skater who seems to get up and down the ice in three strides. He’s tall, lanky, and plays long – he’s just so good at protecting the puck with players on him. He holds it away from defenders so well, and always with his feet moving.
“He also scores great goals. He has a great release. And he beats you 1-on-1. He’s great in the locker room, too. He was our captain – as a 14 year old. He’s a big time player who is mature beyond his years. The sky’s the limit. I’d be very surprised if he’s not a first round NHL pick.”
Commenting on his choice, Eichel told The Lowell Sun:
"I really like the coaches over there. I really like coach (Jack) Parker and I really like both assistant coaches, coach (Mike) Bavis and coach (Buddy) Powers. The facilities over at BU are incredible."
► Eichel was named to the Team USA roster that played in the World Youth Olympics (photo below) in Innsbruck this past January. Eichel co-led the team in scoring.
No one excelled as much as O’Connor, the Toronto native who will play for Boston University this fall.
"It was a good offseason for me, trying to get my weight up,” said O’Connor, who wanted extra strength to offset fatigue from being a workhorse. “To recover after a Friday night game — that was the biggest turnaround for me.”
O’Connor finished 28-16-5, with a goals-against average of 3.04. He started all six postseason games and held the Gamblers scoreless for 48 minutes of the Game 4 finale. (Green Bay scored two empty-netters.)
“The team that we had this year [had] way more character, we could be down a goal and we’d just battle hard and have a lot more confidence and belief,” O’Connor said. “When we were following the game plan there wasn’t a team who could beat us.”
Connolly signs to play in Finland