I saw the future of American hockey last night and It Is Good.
Okay, maybe I’m being a little hyperbolic but I did go to see Jack Eichel and the BU Terriers take on the USA National Under-18 Team in an exhibition game, and it was definitely an experience.
My main takeaways are as follows:
- It was really fun to go to a college game again. What I love about college games is that they always have a dedicated cheering section no matter how the team is doing, and that makes the energy in the arena so much more communal than at some NHL games I’ve been too. Even though this was an exhibition game, they had their cheering section and the pep band (which was quite good) and it seemed almost like a real game.
- It’s easy to forget how much teenagers mature between the ages of about 16 to 21, but seeing the kids of the U-18 team (all of whom are in the ’97 birthdate range) (holy crap I feel old) pitted against the BU college team reminded me that a lot of these kids are still growing in both height and weight.
- I’m relatively sure that 60-70% of the people at the game were there to see Jack Eichel. I’m also 95% sure I was sitting behind a scout for the first period.
- I can’t wait to see Jack Eichel in a real game. He’s clearly eager for goals, and his line was responsible for 4 of the 6 goals BU scored (the 6th being an empty-netter) and had a combined 8 points. He himself had 3, 2 goals and an assist on the goal scored by Danny O’Regan (drafted by the Sharks in 2012).
- I was also impressed by my first look at Auston Matthews, who also had 2 goals and an assist and was frequently out on the ice against Eichel. I’m not surprised he’s projected to go high in 2016 and it’s amazing that he’s from Scottsdale, Arizone.
- I’m looking through the USA roster now and I see that a fair number are from less “traditional” markets. We’ve got a few midwesterners, a couple from St. Louis, one from Texas, and one from Columbus, Ohio. I like it. I like it a lot.
- Anyway, O’Regan, Matthews, and Eichel were the three stars of the night. All three of them good American boys. It’s great to see.
- Another cool thing about going to this particular game was that there seemed to be a lot of people there who were educating their friends and/or family on hockey. I was sitting near two separate families (presumably BU alums) with small children and were teaching them about how hockey works as the game went on. One of the dads, amusingly enough, pointed to Eichel and said to his son, “That’s who I’m here to see.” Down my row was a girl who seemed to know everything about the BU hockey team with her two friends (one male, one female) who were asking her about hockey and the team. I kind of wish I had scooted closer after her friends had left so I could pick her brain about the BU roster. (I also wish I had gotten a better look at what the guy I think was a scout was writing.)
- Lastly: I will definitely be going to another BU game before the end of the school year.