O'Connell comes to Holy Cross from Niagara University, where he was as an assistant coach for the last two seasons. He previously served as an assistant coach at Colby College during the 2003-04 season and during 2002-03, O'Connell was an assistant to the Dean of Students/Director of Student Activities at the Berkshire School in Sheffield, Mass. There he coached the boys' varsity hockey team. O'Connell is also very involved with USA Hockey.
A native of Watertown, Mass., O'Connell was a fifth-round draft choice by the New York Islanders in the 1994 National Hockey League Entry Draft. He graduated from Boston University in 1999 and was a four-year member of the hockey team, earning 108 career points with 42 goals and 66 assists. In his four seasons, the Terriers played in three NCAA Tournaments and reached the Frozen Four on two occasions, while he served as team captain his senior year.
O'Connell played professional hockey for three seasons (1999-2002) with stints in the Elite Ice Hockey League (EIHL) in the United Kingdom and the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL).
The Crusaders are coming off their most successful season ever with a 27-10-2 record and their first win in the NCAA Tournament. The 4-3 overtime victory over Minnesota on Friday, March 24, in the West Regional Semifinals in Grand Forks, N.D., marked the first time that a No. 4 seed defeated a No. 1 seed in NCAA action (since the tournament expanded to 16 teams). The Crusaders also won the Atlantic Hockey regular season and tournament titles for the second time in three years, and was ranked No. 14 in the final USA Today/American Hockey Magazine Poll.