Of all the moments from sports in 2019-20 that would have been much, much better with fans in the stands, there’s not a single one that stands out more to me than the ending of the BC-BU game on February 5.
The Eagles and the Terriers had, as usual, a back-and-forth tilt that went into overtime 3-3, setting up a 3-on-3 extra session for just the second time in the history of this matchup.
With 13 seconds left in overtime, BC was behind its own net facing little pressure, and the game seemed destined to go to the shootout.
Then, Drew Helleson did this:
It was the most exciting finish to a BC-BU game (at least from a BC perspective) since probably Bill Arnold’s Beanpot overtime winner in 2012, made the Sportscenter Top 10, and was probably the absolute highlight of the season. You can almost close your eyes and imagine the way a Conte full of BC and BU fans would have shook after this one.
It was probably appropriate that Drew Helleson had the signature moment of the 2021 season for the Eagles, because over the course of the year, he emerged as one of BC’s best players - and perhaps comes in to the 2021-22 season with the potential of being BC’s MVP.
Drew Helleson is a 2019, 2nd-round draft pick of the Colorado Avalanche, and came in with all the tools to be an elite college defenseman, including size (6’3’’), skating ability, and hockey IQ.
As a freshman in 2019-20, he was solid, very good in his own zone, and one of BC’s most reliable defenders as the season went on. While he didn’t have much in the way of offensive numbers (1 goal, 5 assists), he was undoubtedly a key cog in a team that won the Hockey East regular season title and was poised for a playoff run.
In 2020-21, his game took the next step as he emerged into an offensive threat as well. He put up 15 points in 22 games, a massive leap up in per-game production, and just overall seemed to have more confidence with the puck to do things like... well, dangle around a BU defender and tuck home a game-winner in OT. He was a top-20 defenseman in the nation in terms of scoring and assisted on three game-winning goals in addition to scoring his own GWG.
But this didn’t prevent him from also being a lockdown, reliable D-man in his own end — Helleson was named Hockey East’s Best Defensive Defenseman, a first-team league all-star, and Second Team All-American.
With BC losing so much forward talent to the NHL after last season, one of the hopes for replacing some of this production comes from the dynamic group of skaters BC has on the blue line. In Drew Helleson, they have a player with the potential to score and set up goals while also being outstanding in his own end - and he’ll be a crucial piece of BC’s team in the year to come.