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Eichel tells ESPN he's gaining confidence at world championships

Jack Eichel figured the world championships would allow him to measure himself against some of hockey’s elite. He was right.

Eichel went one-on-one with Pittsburgh center Evgeni Malkin several times during the United States’ 4-2 victory Monday. The 18-year-old, expected to be drafted by the Sabres in June, handled himself well.

“It was definitely a tough matchup,” Eichel told ESPN.com in Czech Republic on Wednesday. “A couple times he had the puck and he had me on my heels. Obviously, he’s one of the best players in the world for a reason. But I just wanted to stay confident in myself and know that I can play against those NHL superstars. I think that’s what I did.

“I thought it would be a great experience to come over here and play against the world’s best. It’s an honor to represent your country, so I thought it would be a great experience for myself and a measuring stick as to where I’m at.”

After the world championships, which resume Thursday for the U.S. team when it faces Belarus, Eichel will return to Boston University to prepare for the NHL Combine. It will be held the first week of June in Buffalo.

“I’m enrolled in the first summer semester at BU, which starts May 19 and I think ends the week before the draft,” Eichel told the website. “I’m just planning on going back to school, working out, preparing for the Combine, just trying to get bigger and stronger. Obviously, I’ll be taking some classes and just preparing for what awaits me.”