3View: Helena Bighorns
The 3View series will feature an in-depth look into all NA3HL teams in preparation for the 2020-21 season, with two teams being highlighted daily, leading all the way up until the start of the regular season. 3View goes in-depth into each NA3HL team and will include interviews with all the head coaches in the NA3HL, as they provide fans with their expectations and outlook for the 2020-21 season, including taking a look at their potential roster and their strengths as a team for the upcoming season. It will also take a look back on the 2019-20 season and how each team fared and what they accomplished. Best of all, 3View will provide the fans of the NA3HL with an inside look at their favorite team and what to expect.
2019-20 Record: 17-26-4, 38pts (6th in Frontier Division)
2020 Playoffs: Qualified
Head Coach: Bob Richards
2020-21 Division: Frontier
Following two consecutive 30-win seasons, a slow start to 2019-20 saw the Helena Bighorns take a step back last year, logging 17 wins en route to 6th place in the Frontier Division.
Still, though, the resilient Bighorns rode a wave of momentum later in the year to a fourth straight playoff appearance — a testament to a strong locker room culture and complete buy-in from each player to salvage the season.
And as the hockey calendar flips the page to the 2020-21 campaign, Head Coach Bob Richards wants more of the same competitive spirit from his team in the new year.
“After a solid second half to the season last year, we are looking to be competitive and have a chance to win every game. At the end of the year, we want all of the players to look back on the year and feel like it was a year well spent for development of their game, along with having a successful season coming together as a team and feeling like it was a close knit locker room,” he said.
Getting back to the level of the 38-win Bighorns from 2018-19 will take more focus on fine-tuning each player’s skillset, something Richards knows will help both the team in the coming season and the player as he looks to continue his hockey journey.
“We plan to really focus on individual skill and skating development this year,” he said. “Last year with a young team we seemed to spend more time getting the team on the same page system wise throughout the season. I think that was exposed a little bit as we entered the playoffs, and we need to make sure our guys develop well individually to compete for a spot at the next level.”
In terms of personnel, one area Richards has highlighted for improvement is the blue line. The Bighorns coughed up 192 goals last season — the 13th most in the League — and will need to shore up the defensive zone to fight their way up the Frontier Division standings.
“We looked to build a little more depth on the blue line this year. With only one (defenseman) returning, we will be a little less experienced, but we have some good young guys back there with great potential,” said Richards.
And while some new talent will look to make an impact on the back end, Richards is excited about some key veterans that will once again suit up in Helena sweaters.
“Dylan Ferrreira and converted forward Alex Bailey will help anchor the blue line, and one of our good young lines last year of Drew Deskin, Isaac Ellingson, and Gavyn Galloway are back for us up front,” he said.
Away from the rink, look for the Bighorns to find different ways to help out the Helena region during a difficult time.
“With COVID-19 restrictions, it will be hard to get on the ice with the youth association and the schools this year like we traditionally do. However, this will open up some opportunities to help out elsewhere through the Salvation Army, our County Library's learn to read program, and the community food pantry,” said Richards.
A team with plenty of potential, the Bighorns will have their sights set high as they embark on another season in search of the Fraser Cup.
Next Up: Long Beach Sharks