The first time I had heard of Jack Eichel was in the summer of 2012 when the Halifax Mooseheads drafted a young player out of the US named John Eichel in the first round. Scouting reports were good and it was assumed that the young Massachusets native would join the powerhouse Herd in their quest for a Memorial Cup. Imagine a Halifax team featuring Jonathan Drouin, Nathan MacKinnon AND Jack Eichel?
Eichel spurned the QMJHL and it looks like things turned out ok for him (and the Moosheads too - they did win a Memorial Cup). They certainly were looking up last night as Eichel's Team USA faced off against a Leon Draisaitl-less German squad. The Germans have arguably the toughest schedule to start the tournament with opening games against perennial powerhouses Team Canada and Team USA. The Team Canada match-up was a positive, but an ultimately humbling 4-0 shutout. The positive was that against McDavid and co. the score was even that close.
Sunday's game got off to a rocky start for the Germans with Blackhawks' 2014 first rounder Nick Schmaltz feeding 2016 draft prospect Auston Matthews for a wraparound for the game's first goal. The Germans wouldn't be so lucky to escape the first period without further damage. Team USA made it 2-0 when Dylan Larkin set up Hudson Fasching for the period's second goal. German goalie Ilya Sharipov kept the roof from completely falling in for the Germans as the 19 year old would stop 20 of 22 shots in the first.
Team Germany didn't get very many favours from the refs, seeing the sin bin by a 7-3 margin over Team USA. Ironically possibly their best chance of the game came on a shorthanded breakaway by Fabio Pfohl in the first period. Had he scored we would have been subjected to a million Fabio references on TSN for the rest of the tournament so be glad.
The second period wouldn't be much better for the Germans as their goose egg on the scoreboard and Team USA's offensive prowess continued to haunt them. Sonny Milano put the Americans up 3-0 early in the second scoring on his own rebound. The Plymouth Whalers first year player is having a great first season in the OHL after being drafted in the first round by the Columbus Blue Jackets this past June. Dylan Larkin picked up another point in the third when he was credited with a goal that went in off German defender Janik Moser's stick.
In the third, Jack Eichel and Dylan Larkin put the game away putting Team USA up by 6 and further damaging the German's already fragile sense of optimism.
Germany has yet to score this tournament having been outscored by a combined 10-0 in its first two games. Last year they actually scored the first goal of the tournament and briefly held a 1-0 lead over the Canadian squad. This year, points of pride are little hard to come by. Thankfully Germany's schedule will soften up as they face Slovakia on Tuesday.