College hockey: Boston University promotes Albie O'Connell to become 12th coach in school history
BOSTON –– After helping the Terriers achieve success on the ice as both a player and an assistant coach, Albie O’Connell (CAS’99) has been named the 12th head coach in the storied history of the Boston University men’s ice hockey program, director of athletics Drew Marrochello announced Tuesday.
O’Connell will be officially introduced at a press conference on Wednesday, June 6 at 1 p.m. ET in the Francis D. Burke Club Room at Agganis Arena.
The captain of the 1998-99 squad, O’Connell returned to BU in 2014 to join David Quinn’s staff and was promoted to associate head coach one year later. He now replaces Quinn, who was recently named head coach of the New York Rangers of the National Hockey League.
O’Connell becomes the only current Division I men’s head coach who has captured a conference regular-season title, won a conference tournament championship and reached the NCAA title game as both a player and a coach. In his combined eight years on Commonwealth Ave., O’Connell has been a part of seven NCAA tournament appearances, seven Hockey East titles (four regular season, three tournament), five Beanpot titles, three Frozen Fours and two national championship games.
O’Connell will continue a long legacy of BU alumni who have led the program, as a Terrier has held the head-coaching role in 72 of the 73 seasons that have taken place since the end of World War II.
“We aspire to have the best program in college hockey,” Marrochello said, “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.”
In the past four years with O’Connell on staff, the Terriers have qualified for the NCAAs each season, the program’s longest streak since going to nine straight in the 1990s. After finishing as the national runner-up in 2015 along with Beanpot and Hockey East titles, BU reached the NCAA quarterfinals in both 2017 and 2018 and will enter this upcoming season as the defending Hockey East champion.
O'Connell has helped develop numerous Terriers into NHL-ready talent, including Olympian Jordan Greenway and All-Americans Jack Eichel, Matt Grzelcyk, Charlie McAvoy and Danny O’Regan.
Prior to his return to BU, O’Connell spent a decade as a Division I assistant coach throughout the Northeast and established himself as one of the sport’s premier recruiters. Following three-year stints at both Northeastern and Harvard, he spent one season each at Holy Cross and Merrimack after a two-year appointment at Niagara.
The Watertown, Massachusetts, native's coaching career began at Berkshire Prep School in 2002 before he joined the collegiate coaching ranks the following year at Colby College.
“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 played in two Frozen Fours (1996, 1997) and helped the Terriers reach the national championship game and claim a Hockey East title as a sophomore. He and his fellow members of the Class of 1999 are one of only four BU classes to win four Beanpots.
Thrilled for @BUCoachAlbie...— Brian Kelley (@BKelleyBU) June 6, 2018
He’s the only current @NCAAIceHockey head coach who has won conference reg. season & tournament titles and reached Div. 1 national title game as both a player and a coach. #ProudToBU https://t.co/KDqpjI1VDM
In 149 career games, O'Connell totaled 108 points (42 goals, 66 assists) during his four years playing for Jack Parker. As a senior captain, he led the team in scoring with 39 points (nine goals, 30 assists).
At Harvard, O'Connell worked primarily with the Crimson's defensemen and special teams. In his first season there, he directed the nation's top power-play unit, which operated at a 27.3-percent success rate, and helped the Crimson advance to the ECAC championship game.
During his three seasons at Northeastern (2008-11), O'Connell served as recruiting coordinator and helped the Huskies post 55 wins after the team recorded just 22 victories during the previous three-year span. The Huskies reached two Beanpot finals, two Hockey East semifinals and the 2009 NCAA Tournament while O'Connell was on staff.
At Merrimack in 2007-08, O'Connell worked primarily with the forwards and the power play while assisting in all aspects of the program. Under his guidance, the Warriors nearly doubled their goal scoring from the previous season and improved by nine wins.
O'Connell spent the 2006-07 season at Holy Cross after a two-year stint at Niagara. In addition to coaching in the collegiate ranks, O'Connell has also coached extensively with USA Hockey since 2003. During his year at Berkshire, he also served as the school's assistant dean of students and the student activities director.
A fifth-round draft pick of the New York Islanders in 1994, O'Connell played professional hockey for the Pensacola Ice Pilots (East Coast Hockey League) in 1999-2000, the Basingstoke Bison (British National League) in 2000-01, the Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies (ECHL) in 2001-02 and the Cardiff Devils (BNL) in 2001-02. In 127 pro games, O'Connell posted 54 goals and 78 assists for 132 points.
O'Connell graduated from BU in 1999 with a bachelor's degree in history. He resides in Duxbury with his wife, Kristen (SAR’99), and their three children, Connor (13), Daniel (9) and Kacie (7).