Off-Ice News

In year two, Albie O’Connell is ready for a major step forward

Albie O’Connell directs from the bench in a visit to Providence College last season. Photo courtesy of Matt Dresens.

It’s a new year for Boston University men’s hockey; a blank slate that holds no record, no standings and no statistics. On Commonwealth Avenue, perhaps no one is embracing this fresh start as much as Terrier head coach Albie O’Connell.

“We’re hoping for a bounce-back,” said the BU boss, entering his second year behind the same bench he formerly patrolled as the BU captain two decades ago.

O’Connell’s inaugural season in charge was not what the Watertown native said he had in mind, as his Terriers went 16-18-4 and fell in the semifinal rounds of the Beanpot and Hockey East tournament, both at the hands of crosstown rival Northeastern University. As he now willingly admits, on-ice challenges weren’t the only hardships O’Connell faced in his first year as a head coach.

“Overscheduling worked its effect,” the 43-year-old said. “I think last year I was pulled in a lot of different directions.”

From the players’ perspective, senior captain Patrick Curry acknowledged that the team experienced some growing pains when O’Connell took over the managerial duties.

“It was just a learning experience for everybody, including himself,” the four-year forward said.

O’Connell’s first season didn’t go according to plan, but it should be noted that his predecessor, David Quinn, took the Terriers to an 11-21-4 record in his opening campaign with BU. The following year, Quinn’s men went 28-8-5 on the way to the Frozen Four final. O’Connell will hope for the same good fortune in year two, and early signs are keeping the coach optimistic.

“We had a good offseason,” O’Connell said. “Guys are in shape, guys are hungry and I think we’re excited as a coaching staff.”

O’Connell and his staff have more than enough reason to be excited. The Terriers welcome 11 freshmen to their 2019-20 roster, including six 2019 NHL draftees. This is BU’s largest incoming class of recruits since the 2004-05 season, when the Terriers earned an at-large bid into the national tournament.

Aside from 2018-19 National Rookie of the Year Joel Farabee, who has since moved on to professional hockey, last year’s five freshmen skaters combined for two goals and 12 assists. In order to get more out of this season’s debutants, O’Connell aims to do things a bit differently his second time around.

“[I plan on] spending more time with players individually,” O’Connell said. “I think that’s an area that I can improve at. You have to be out there. Development is development — that’s our number one job as coaches.”

With seven of 11 Hockey East teams earning votes in the first national poll of 2019-20, the conference is as competitive as ever this season. In order to emerge from the pack, the skipper knows his team will have to start quickly and play strong but smart hockey.

“Hopefully we hit the ground running,” O’Connell said. “We’re going to have to put ourselves in a spot where we’re disciplined, but we’re hard to play against.”

It’s a new year and a new opportunity for O’Connell to stake his claim at the helm of BU’s future. The names may be different and the team may be younger, but to O’Connell, that’s no excuse to lower the expectations.

“It’s the same goal every year,” O’Connell said. “You want to win the Beanpot, you want to win Hockey East, and you want to win the whole thing.”

“Do we have a team that can do it? Yeah.”


  1. Great attitude from coach and a solid plan. We have a great coaching staff. It’s too early to tell what these freshmen will be able to achieve at this level. One thing is clear with coach behind the bench we will get there full potential early. I think the way our schedule is set up along with our leadership we have put our young kids in a position to achieve success. We have success we gain confidence. A big start is key. We have struggled at the start the last few seasons a big start will go a long way

    • I think you’re banking on some quick adjustments to the college level Colin, but I agree that the potential is certainly there, and Coach seems to have a strong plan in place. Above all else, getting wins early will be huge!