Men’s Hockey: New coaches hired

By Jared Shafran

The men’s hockey team will feature two new faces on the coaching staff this upcoming season, according to recent reports. Albie O’Connell will come on board as an assistant coach, according to a release on Merrimack’s website, where he used to be an assistant coach. John Carratu will also man a previously unfilled position as a goalie coach, according to local media reports.

The additions follow the offseason departures of assistant coaches Shawn McEachern, who left for a position at UMass Lowell, and Gene Reilly, who is headed to the Austrian professional league.

Assistant coach Joe Santilli said he also plans to reduce his role this season and devote more of his time to his career in sales.

The two new coaches have plenty of experience to draw from. Previously, O’Connell resigned from his Merrimack position to take the job at NU. His year with Merrimack last season was his first with the school, and he comes to Boston after being offered the top assistant job, one which he has never before held, according to the Merrimack release.

Hailing from Watertown, O’Connell was selected by the New York Islanders in the fifth round of the 1994 NHL Entry Draft. He went on to play college hockey at Boston University from 1995 to 1999, where he tallied 42 goals and 108 points. He had a two-year stint as the assistant coach at Niagara University before moving to Holy Cross during the 2006-07 season and coaching at Merrimack last season.

O’Connell participated in the NCAA tournament three times with Boston University and on two of those occasions, reached the Frozen Four. He was appointed captain his senior year and was a four-time Beanpot champion.

Carratu, a native of Beverly, started working with Stop It Goaltending, a goaltending school, four years ago and has helped the program immensely since his arrival. The program instructs between 300 and 350 goalie prospects in summer hockey each year.

Carratu’s biggest assignment will be working with junior starting goaltender Brad Thiessen. Although they have not formally met yet, Thiessen said he is excited to have a new coach to work with.

‘He has been working with goalies for a long time,’ Thiessen said. ‘I am looking forward to having someone watch me who knows the position well.’

One of the big changes Thiessen said he is hoping for with Carratu is that he will be a more consistent presence around the rink to give input and suggestions.

‘He is going to be around a little more,’ Thiessen said. ‘When you are struggling, you need someone to point something out that someone else on the team would not be able to.’

Thiessen said he is looking forward to the start of a new season with his teammates and the new look of the coaching staff.

‘We have a good group of guys that are coming back this season and we have experienced a lot together,’ Thiessen said. ‘We have a sour taste in our mouth after the end of last season losing to Vermont in the playoffs and we know we can be a contender in Hockey East this year.’

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