The Boston University Terriers are taking on the U.S. National Junior Team in an exhibition game to be played at Walter Brown Arena. It has been ten years since Walter Brown Arena has seen the Terriers Men’s Ice Hockey Team play a game. And while not nearly as big as Agganis Arena, the noise will more than make up for the fewer fans.
“Obviously there’s less fans, but it’s going to be ten times as loud because it’s such a small building,” said team captain Matt Grzelcyk. “I think it will be a great environment.”
Besides returning to a rink in which they haven’t played in such a long time, the Terriers will be playing against Jack Eichel instead of having him on their bench. There was some speculation by Eichel after practice that perhaps some of the advice given to the Terriers before tonight’s tilt would be “Don’t hurt Jack.”
“Oh really? Is that what Jack said?” joked Terriers head coach David Quinn. “He’s heard me talk enough, he can predict a lot of my speeches, I would imagine. There’s going to be a lot of stick checking when he has the puck, to say the least.”
“I think guys are pretty well aware that we don’t want to hurt him because we want him for the second half of our season,” said Grzelcyk.
However, both teams are competitive. Many of the players who will suit up wearing the USA jerseys are still vying for a position on the final roster. And the Terriers are not a team that gives way to anyone.
“Hey, it’s hockey. You’re always getting evaluated,” said Quinn. “We’ve got depth on our team. These guys are going to be out there to either solidify a spot or earn more playing time.”
And with Eichel wearing red, white and blue, combined with the absences of Robbie Baillargeon, Nikolas Olsson, and Evan Rodrigues, the Terriers are down some of their more powerful players. But this is still a great evaluation for the Terriers—up against USA’s finest.
“It’s a great measuring stick, because they [Team USA] are loaded,” said Quinn.
“We know this is a real talented group of guys and a great team, so it will be a big game for us,” forward Danny O’Regan told The Pink Puck.
Both O’Regan and Grzelcyk have donned the USA sweater—playing in the 2014 World Junior Championship, so they know the caliber of player they will be playing against. And to be just a junior in college and already be too old for this level, is an interesting thought. Is it strange to play against the USA instead of with them?
“Not really. I’m pretty comfortable with this being my third year of school,” Grzelcyk joked, to The Pink Puck, wearing his BU hoodie while standing in front of the USA Hockey backdrop. “I won’t be too confused passing the puck to the wrong guys.”
Grzelcyk will face Eichel instead of playing with him. Does Grzelcyk have a secret to stopping him?
“Just close my eyes and hope he hits me,” he joked. “Hope he hits my shin pad with the shot or dumps it in.”
Likely Coach Quinn has some other ideas, but Eichel is hard to stop and his teammates, on both teams, know this for a fact.
For the staff and BU alumni, the return tonight to Walter Brown Arena will bring back a wash of memories. And in keeping with the ten-year anniversary, the banners hanging from the rafters do not date past 2004 when the team moved to Agganis. For the players on both teams it is a chance to prove their value either to wear the USA jersey or be seen in a Terriers sweater.
And while Quinn doesn’t consider it to be “neat” that his team will face his phenom forward Eichel, all who chatted after practice today are looking forward to what should be an amazing and fun game.
Watch Coach Quinn’s full interview here: