hen the puck dropped for the third period in the 2019 Hockey East Tournament finals, Boston College men’s hockey saw red.
The Eagles had relinquished three goals to Northeastern after just 12 minutes of play, and they had finally cut that lead to one by the close of the second frame. But their momentum was quickly stifled in the opening minute of the third period.
Thousands of fans held their breath as they took in the scene before them. Eagles forward Logan Hutsko lay along the boards after taking an awkward hit from Huskies defenseman Jordan Harris. Hutsko had laid motionless on the ice before being stretchered off the ice, his head secured with a neck brace as he was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital.
“My arms got tangled up, so I couldn’t kind of catch myself on my fall, and I just remember falling straight on my head,” said Hutsko. “I was out for a little bit and just kind of woke up with all the EMTs around me and our trainer.”
But this was far from Hutsko’s first scary on-ice incident, as he had already had a nearly career-ending injury just a few years prior. In the fall of his junior year in high school, Hutsko suffered from a C6 vertebrae fracture during a pregame skate with the United States National Team Development Program (USNTDP), an injury that has historically left players paralyzed.
According to head coach Jerry York in his postgame interview following the 2019 scare, it was Hutsko’s past injury that caused the team to be cautious with handling this potential injury. But Hutsko escaped the incident relatively unscathed, coming out of it with only a concussion. While Hutsko was able to avoid another serious injury, he was still greatly affected by the outcome.
“Every day I’d wake up and I’d hope that I was doing better,” Hutsko recalled. “And a lot of times with concussions, it’s not like you’re just rampantly doing better. For the first week or two, I would kind of forget [things]. I really wanted to walk to campus, and [I] just kind of forgot why I walked to campus.”
Unfazed by the inherent danger of his sport, Hutsko returned as a key factor in the Eagles’ success this year. His remarkable rally—for the second time in his career—earns him The Heights’ inaugural Comeback of the Year Award.
s with any injury, some days are better than others, but the concussion kept Hutsko largely isolated from the support system that would have helped him through his recovery period. With his concussion, Hutsko found himself unable to attend most practices and team meetings due to the everpresent “foggy” feeling that plagued him during the first couple of weeks.
Hustko’s isolation from social settings also had a large effect on his mental health. In the weeks following his diagnosis, Hutsko found himself experiencing anxiety that he hadn’t had before. During this time, Hutsko turned to the team’s priest, Rev. Tony Penna, S.J..
“I was getting some anxiety that I hadn’t really had before, which was a result of [the isolation],” Hutsko said. “[Penna] and I’ve grown closer over my three years at BC. He’s kind of like a life coach to all the players on the team that meet with him, so this was kind of something he helped me get through.”
To add onto the damage of being pulled from the Hockey East finals due to his concussion, Hutsko’s team was also unsuccessful in completing its comeback. Coming up one game short of the NCAA Tournament is a surefire way to fuel more hunger for next season, just as it did for Hutsko.
“Anytime any player comes to BC, they come with an expectation to win, especially with all the history we have as part of our program,” Hutsko said. “You even feel a little embarrassed after the year that we had because you think of all the great players and people that have built this program. You want to make them proud.”
“Anytime any player comes to BC, they come with an expectation to win, especially with all the history we have as part of our program. You even feel a little embarrassed after the year that we had because you think of all the great players and people that have built this program. You want to make them proud.” Logan Hutsko
While BC made the Hockey East finals, it took the rocky route to get there. The season had begun with a five-game losing streak and didn’t improve much from there. In the run up to the playoffs, the Eagles went 1-8, ending the regular season with a record of 11-20-3, an uninspired follow-up to their 20-14-3 record the season prior.
So when the team began to prepare for the upcoming season, Hutsko knew they had to come back much stronger than before.
It didn’t take Hutsko long to get back in his groove, assisting captain David Cotton’s goal in the team’s rout of Wisconsin and netting a goal of his own against Colgate during BC’s first road outing.
But the magic foretold by the opening games didn’t stay for long. Following the Eagles’ victory over Colgate, they fell into a four-game slide that began with back-to-back road losses to Denver. While BC experienced its win drought, Hutsko also continued to struggle to score, netting just one goal during the losses.
Just when things were looking dismal for the Eagles, a switch flipped. And as BC began to pick up the pace, Hutsko did as well. On Nov. 8, the Eagles began their 10-game win streak and Hutsko began his streak of averaging just over a point per game, which would continue until the end of the season. And it was during this 10-game streak that Hutsko’s talent was brought into the spotlight.
After Hutsko made an incredible unassisted goal against Yale on Nov. 26, Justin Bieber posted a video of the play on Instagram, calling Hutsko “the truth.”
“I was sitting down to take an exam for class in December, [and] my phone started blowing up,” Hutsko recalled. “I just remember having to shut it off because I was getting ready to take an exam, and I was pretty shocked. It was hard to focus for that exam, but then after I just remember looking through my phone and seeing everybody text me. He DMed me [and] we had a little conversation, which was pretty cool.”
The Eagles reposted Bieber’s Instagram post on Twitter, prompting the discussion: “What’s the coolest thing that happened to you today?” Senior Jesper Mattila was quick to add a comeback.
ut for Hutsko, it wasn’t that Yale game that proved to be the season’s turning point. After all, the Eagles had yet to be truly tested during that win streak. Both Vermont and UConn—opponents that made up a total of four wins for the Eagles prior to Yale—were also struggling to start their seasons. BC’s first true test came during a home-and-home series against Notre Dame.
The Fighting Irish had shut the Eagles out in the teams’ sole matchup the year prior and have had a consistently strong program for years. BC was quickly proving itself to be a team to be reckoned with.
“[We beat them] 4-0 and 6-1, so it was two pretty big statement games,” said Hutsko. “They were a top-ranked team at the time, and you obviously believe that you have a special group, but when you’re able to top a team in back-to-back games like that, it kind of makes everyone look at each other like, ‘Man we can actually do this.’”
Hutsko himself recorded three points—two goals and one assist—during that series, helping to lead the Eagles over the Fighting Irish for the first time in his collegiate career.
“They were a top-ranked team at the time, and you obviously believe that you have a special group, but when you’re able to top a team in back-to-back games like that, it kind of makes everyone look at each other like, ‘Man we can actually do this.’” Logan Hutsko
Over the course of his three-year tenure on the Heights, Hutsko has solidified himself as a crucial member of the Eagles’ offensive core. Fresh out of the USNTDP, Hutsko led the Eagles in assists and points, coming second to then-sophomore Julius Mattila in goals.
The forward persevered through the fabled “sophomore slump” and came out on top, continuing to lead BC in assists and taking second to Cotton in points. And while Hutsko was unable to maintain his position as one of the Eagles’ top scorers—that title this year belongs to Alex Newhook and Julius Mattila—he remained one of the team’s top performers.
This season, Hutsko found himself tied with Newhook for goals at 19. And in playing four games fewer than Newhook, Hutsko’s goals per game average, .63, earned himself a spot in the top 10 in goals per game in the NCAA.
Hutsko’s continued growth throughout his time with the team was a key factor in setting BC up for postseason success, a goal that was quickly silenced when the NCAA canceled all remaining tournaments due to increasing concern over the coronavirus.
“I think we had a team that could win everything this year,” Hutsko said. “It’s really hard to never even know if we could have done it, but I think everyone believes that we had the team to do it. That’s a tough pill to swallow to not even have the opportunity.”
“I think we had a team that could win everything this year. It’s really hard to never even know if we could have done it, but I think everyone believes that we had the team to do it. That’s a tough pill to swallow to not even have the opportunity.” Logan Hutsko
When the regular season ended, BC was sitting comfortably at first in its conference and fourth in the nation, ready to quickly breeze through the Hockey East Tournament and move automatically onto the NCAA Tournament. Since the cancellations, there have been simulated tournaments to see how the postseason could have unfolded. But at the end of the day, the world will never know how far the Eagles could have gone.
As for Hutsko, he has one more year with the Eagles, and he plans to finish the job. After only coming away with the regular season title, Hutsko has his sights set on the remaining three trophies. And he’s not going to let anything get in his way.
Featured Image by Ikram Ali / Heights Editor
Other Images by Jess Rivilis / Heights Editor