While freshman Jack Eichel led the way with a pair of goals, junior defenseman Matt Grzelcyk was responsible for getting the Garden party started Saturday night by scoring the first goal in Boston University’s dominant 5-3 victory over UMass-Lowell in the Hockey East championship game.
Of course, BU’s junior captain from Charlestown had Eichel to thank for that.
“That was a good job by Jack,’’ Grzelcyk said, tipping his cap to Eichel, who was selected to the all-tournament team and was the hands-down winner of most valuable player honors.
With 27 seconds elapsed in BU’s first power-play opportunity, Eichel retrieved a long pass from goaltender Matt O’Connor and drove the puck deep into the attacking zone along the right boards. Eichel drew several defenders and threaded a cross-ice pass to Grzelcyk, who beat UMass-Lowell goaltender Kevin Boyle with a backdoor shot at 13:08.
It was all the Terriers needed to crank up the party.
“Obviously, Jack made a great play,’’ said Grzelyck, who was also an all-tournament selection, along with O’Connor. “I saw the guy who was supposed to be on me was kind of paying a little bit more attention to [Eichel] and so I just tried to go to the net and just hit the guy’s stick right to my tape.’’
Grzelcyk, who also was credited with an assist on Nikolas Olsson’s second-period goal that made it 4-1, returned the favor by assisting on Eichel’s second goal at 14:43 of the third. It extended Grzelcyk’s career-best point streak to 11 games, a span in which he’s had nine goals and nine assists.
“I don’t think I was really playing any differently,’’ said Grzelcyk. “Obviously, I was getting a little more puck luck. My teammates had been finding me really well and I was trying to find the areas where I’m available and always ready to take a shot.
“That’s something Coach [David Quinn] has always taught me, to always have your stick ready. I think that’s something I’ve been really conscious of going into the game.’’
It was a banner night for the Terriers at TD Garden, where Grzelcyk’s father John has worked for 45 years as a member of the bull gang. He proudly watched his son take twirls on the ice with the Beanpot trophy and now the Hockey East tournament hardware.
“It’s always nice to be back here and seeing familiar faces and just talking to my Dad before the game,’’ Grzelcyk said. “I’m not really sure where he was [watching from]. I don’t like to ask because then I’ll get too distracted.’’
Selected by the Bruins in the third round of the 2012 NHL Draft, Grzelyck laughed when asked if he was prepared to lobby Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli to move heaven and earth to draft Eichel.
“Obviously, I’ve had the pleasure of playing with him at the World Juniors last year and this season, so if I could get to play with a player like that, I think that would be unbelievable,’’ Grzelcyk said. “It’d obviously be a huge advantage. It would be cool.’’
Even cooler still, would be the opportunity for Grzelcyk to play with Eichel in the Frozen Four in Boston and capture the NCAA championship.
“Obviously it would be huge,’’ Grzelcyk said. “It would probably be a little bit of an advantage for us if we got back here. We’ve had a lot of success this year, especially here.’’