It was pretty tough being away from home playing for the [USA Hockey] National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor when I would’ve been a sophomore in high school, but it helped me mature as a player and a person. It taught me responsibility, I learned how to manage my time, and I had to grow up pretty quickly — on the ice, too. I got to play against the best players in the country on a day-to-day basis, and I got to represent my country. I think I’ll look back on those as some of the best years of my life.
I had a really good feeling about coming to BU — about being in the city, about playing at Agganis Arena and for this program. I remember making my campus visit. It was so intimidating to meet [former] coach [Jack] Parker, who recruited me, but he made me feel comfortable here. Coach [David] Quinn, too. Hockey East is such a hard league. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to go to college, rather than play major junior hockey. There are less games, and there’s more emphasis on each one. Every game is such a war. Plus, I’ve wanted to play in the Beanpot since I was little kid. And my family is just a half-hour away, so they’re able to travel to most of our games. I never played for a high school or a prep school, so it’s nice to play in this atmosphere.
My dad is super competitive, so I got that from him. I’ve been that way since I was young, whether I was playing my sister in basketball or playing hockey. Back then, if I didn’t win, it was a huge problem. I was pretty immature about that when I was young, but I think it ended up being a good thing for me. I hate the word “lose.”
COMING UP Eichel is expected to play in the World Junior Championship, which begins Friday, December 26, in Canada. usahockey.com
Interview has been edited and condensed.