One title down, two to go for 2015 draft superstar Jack Eichel

Ryan Kennedy
Jack Eichel with the Beanpot (Photo by Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images)

When the Boston University Terriers needed Jack Eichel the most, he was there. For the first 60 minutes of the Beanpot final against Northeastern, the consensus No. 2 pick in the 2015 draft was crazy dangerous, but had yet to make his mark on the scoresheet. But seconds into overtime, Eichel swooped towards the Northeastern net, drawing a controversial penalty on Huskies defenseman Matt Benning.

“His speed is intimidating; teams know when he’s out there,” said Terriers coach David Quinn. “He gives us a swagger and it’s infectious. But it’s a respectful swagger.”

Less than a minute later, Eichel helped set up Matt Grzelcyk’s winning goal on the power play and the Terriers were celebrating.

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Connor McDavid goes end-to-end for spectacular goal en route to six-point night

Jared Clinton
Connor McDavid (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

Heading into action Wednesday night against Guelph, Connor McDavid scored had 92 points. He scored his 93rd point – a power play goal – less than seven minutes into the contest with the storm. But it’s his 94th point, a spectacular individual effort, which is going to stand up as one of his best.

Little more than two minutes after his first tally of the evening, McDavid scooped the puck up behind the Erie net and skated up ice with a head of steam. He slipped past one check with relative ease, embarrassed a second defender and finished the goal off in style. It’s a must-see goal from the sure-fire top two pick in the upcoming draft. Read more

Flames prospect Sam Bennett to make OHL season debut tonight

Sam Bennett (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

He’ll be taking a bus to the game instead of a charter flight, his sweater will have a big ‘K’ on the front instead of a ‘C’ and he’ll be playing with teenagers instead of men, but when you go 145 days between games the way Sam Bennett has, it’s impossible not to be excited.

Bennett draws into the Kingston Frontenacs lineup tonight in Belleville for his Ontario League season debut tonight – and his home debut against the Sudbury Wolves Friday night – 4 ½ months after undergoing surgery on his left shoulder while in training camp with the Calgary Flames. And if the fourth overall pick is harboring any bitterness about not having a chance to play in the NHL this season, he’s doing a very good job of hiding it. Read more

Boston fairytale: Bruins pick ends Beanpot in overtime

Ryan Kennedy
Matt Grzelcyk with the Beanpot trophy  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

BOSTON – Matt Grzelcyk’s dad has been a Boston arena worker for decades, covering up ice for basketball games, uncovering it for hockey or prepping the building for concerts. Grzelcyk (pronounced “Grizz-lick”) was also drafted by his hometown Boston Bruins, so of course the city’s famous college hockey trophy would be decided on the blade of one of its own.

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2015 NHL draft prospect Noah Hanifin is a Boston College beauty

Ryan Kennedy
Noah Hanifin (Photo by Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images)

BOSTON – The Beanpot tournament is a bit of a big deal in Boston. Pitting the four NCAA schools in the city against each other over two weekends, the showdown features blood rivals Harvard, Northeastern, Boston College and Boston University. Defenseman Noah Hanifin grew up around the tourney, so he was amped to play in it this year and helped Boston College win third place after an opening round loss to Northeastern.

“I pretty much went every year since I was five years old,” Hanifin said. “To be able to play in it this year and experience it was unbelievable even though we didn’t get the outcome we wanted.”

Like fellow 2015 NHL draft phenoms Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel (a friend of Hanifin’s), it’s not hard to run out of superlatives when talking about the gifted Hanifin.

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Minnesota high school teams fighting to keep top talent

Ryan Kennedy
Paul Bittner (Photo by Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)

Minnesota’s Mr. Hockey Award goes to the state’s most outstanding senior in high school hockey and a perusal of the past winners churns up some pretty impressive names. Ryan McDonagh, Nick Leddy and Nick Bjugstad all earned the honor and each one of them was then taken in the first round of the NHL draft. For years, a Minnesota high schooler always went in the top 30, but those days are gone. Since 2011, the first names called have been second-rounders, but sometimes fifth-rounders. In 2014, a Wisconsin high schooler (Matt Berkovitz, Anaheim) was actually taken before any Minnesota kids, which, traditionally speaking, is insane.

The “State of Hockey” is still producing lots of talent, but those kids are no longer sticking with their schools. Team USA, the United States League, the Western League and prep school Shattuck-St. Mary’s have all taken chunks out of the high school circuit, which still holds its vaunted state tournament at the Minnesota Wild’s XCel Energy Center and packs the house. It’s getting to the point where some scouts are less than enthusiastic about watching the games and a fierce protectionism has frayed relationships at the local level.

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Buffalo Sabres captain Brian Gionta hits 500 career points

Ryan Kennedy
Buffalo's Brian Gionta (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)

Buffalo Sabres captain Brian Gionta hit 500 career points last night on a goal against the Philadelphia Flyers in what would turn out to be a shootout win for his squad. Wins have been hard to come by for the Sabres lately and while it was expected that the rebuilding squad would struggle, the players on the team now still have to deal with the ramifications.

Which is why Gionta is the perfect captain for the situation. Not only is he a Stanley Cup winner (New Jersey, 2003) and an Olympian (Team USA, 2006), but Gionta has bucked the odds in his career, getting everything and more out of his 5-foot-7, 175-pound frame.

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If Maple Leafs have to start from scratch, they picked the right time to do it

Ryan Kennedy
Morgan Rielly (John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)

All is not well in Leaf Land, as Toronto has sunk into a funk that has eclipsed the cataclysmic slumps of the recent past. As reported by Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston yesterday, Maple Leafs assistant GM Kyle Dubas has publicly stated that if the team needs to start from scratch, that’s what they’ll do in order to make things right.

Luckily, this is a great time to do so.

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