Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports

BU names Albie O'Connell new men's hockey coach

Scott McLaughlin
June 06, 2018 - 9:08 am

Boston University's search for its next men's hockey coach featured a couple somewhat surprising reports and names during the two and a half weeks since David Quinn left for the New York Rangers, but ultimately the school decided to hire the man who seemed to be the favorite, and most natural fit, from the start: Albie O'Connell.

O'Connell has been on BU's coaching staff for the last four years and was Quinn's associate head coach for the last three. He has been a crucial part of the Terriers' consistently great recruiting, helping the team land high-end prospects and bring in one of the best freshman classes in the country on a yearly basis. BU has made the NCAA tournament in each of O'Connell's four years on staff.

O'Connell will be officially introduced in a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

"We aspire to have the best program in college hockey," said BU athletic director Drew Marrochello, "which means that we want nothing less than the best for our university, our alumni, our fans, and most importantly our student-athletes. In promoting Albie, we believe we have secured the best possible coach to lead our program at its elite level for many years to come.

"Albie is well-regarded, well-respected and well-prepared for this opportunity. As a former Terrier captain and Boston University graduate, he understands the magnitude of BU Hockey, and has a clear and aspirational vision for how we will continue to provide a first-class experience to our student-athletes."

Prior to joining the BU staff in 2014, O'Connell had spent three years as an assistant coach at Harvard and, before that, three years in the same role at Northeastern. O'Connell also previously had stints as an assistant coach at Merrimack, Holy Cross and Niagara.

O'Connell is a BU alum who graduated in 1999 and served as the Terriers' captain as a senior. His appointment continues a BU tradition of having an alum as its men's hockey coach, as that has now been the case for 72 of the program's 73 seasons since World War II.

"Simply put, this is the opportunity of a lifetime," O’Connell said. "I’d like to thank Drew Marrochello, President Robert A. Brown and senior vice president Todd Klipp for entrusting me with a program that means the world to me. 

"BU has given me so much and I want each player that puts on our jersey to feel the same way I do. Returning here four years ago was an amazing feeling, and I look forward to continuing the momentum that this program has enjoyed recently and carrying on the incredible BU hockey legacy."

O'Connell beat out an interesting field of candidates that included, among possibly others, fellow Terriers Shawn McEachern (currently the head coach at The Rivers School), Jay Pandolfo and Joe Sacco (both currently assistant coaches with the Boston Bruins), as well as an interesting non-BU alum in Union College head coach Rick Bennett, who reached two Frozen Fours in his first three seasons at Union and won the national championship in 2014.

While all of those are probably bigger names than O'Connell, it was clear from the start that O'Connell was the favorite among many BU fans and donors, who generally like the direction the program is going and see O'Connell as someone who will keep it on that trajectory and provide continuity with the current players and recruits.

The other candidates came with more question marks. Pandolfo and Sacco haven't been around the college game since their playing days, McEachern had been an assistant at Northeastern and UMass Lowell but wasn't the standout recruiter O'Connell is, and Bennett hasn't been around BU and has seen Union take a step back since the successes of his first few years.