Keith O’Connell Fighting For A Cause

Those triangle teams of the 90’s always had trouble accumulating wins but boy could they rack up the penalty minutes.  When you think back on those games you think of infamous fighters like Brad Norton and Dennis Wright, UMass’ career leaders in PIM.  But Keith O’Connell?  Not really.  O’Connell was a dependable blueliner who luckily for the goaltenders behind him was able to keep his gloves on and out of the penalty box most of the time.

However, in June he’ll be trading his hockey gloves for boxing gloves to raise money for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute and the Jimmy Fund.  Here’s more information on why he chose to step into the ring.

Dear Friends and Family,

I am proud to announce that on June 23, 2011 at the Park Plaza Castle in Boston, I will be fighting in the Haymakers for Hope Charity boxing event! I know that at first glance people must think I am crazy, and I am actually still trying to figure out if I am. But the true motivation is the cause! The charities that have been chosen are the Dana Farber Cancer Institute and the Jimmy Fund. Need I say more?

At some point in our lives, we all have been affected by this awful disease they call Cancer. Whether it was a family member, a friend or even a friend of a friend, there is just nothing good that I can think of that relates to this sometimes tragic disease. I say sometimes, because in my own personal experience, my father was diagnosed with Lymphoma, a type of cancer that has a pretty successful cure rate. But I remember being in the 6th grade, and not really knowing what was going on. Why is my dad losing his hair? Why did he have go to Mass General Hospital every week for a year? Now being 38 years old, I fully understand that patients can spend days, weeks, and months in the hospital without getting the same result my family got. Fortunately for my dad, he has been in remission for 26 years and is in the best shape of his life at 66 years old. I love you Dad!

But as we all know, these stories don’t always end the same as my dad’s did. And again, I know firsthand with the loss of my grandmother to lung cancer, and the struggles she had right up to the end. Though she was strong and fought as hard as she could, it was just too much for her at her age.

It’s funny because people are saying “Wow! You’re really going to get in the ring and fight?” And of course I say yes! “That takes a lot of courage.” Yes it does to a degree, but the courage and the will to fight is really being driven from the courage and fight that I saw from a distance in young Christopher Mullen, and his hard fought battle with cancer. Christopher is the son of my lifelong friend Chris Mullen from South Boston and his wife Lisa (Hayes) Mullen, who unfortunately lost young Christopher this past December at the tender age of three. To actually put into words what they went through I think is impossible. But knowing the Mullen family, they will have their moments, and I know that they will always draw on the courage and will that young Christopher showed right up to the end to get them strong again. This is the same motivation and strength I will have when I am in the ring battling for their Little Angel, and for all of those who have been affected by this awful disease.

In closing I want to personally thank any and all of you who are willing support me in my personal fight in the ring against cancer!


Keith O’Connell

Click here to support Keith and his cause.

In other alumni news Jon Quick picked up his first ever playoff shutout to help the Kings even their series at one game apiece.  Justin Braun made his Stanley Cup Playoff debut in the game.  Game 3 will take place tomorrow.

Around Hockey East, Providence has interviewed three people for its vacancy while Lowell is zeroing in on an alumni to fill their position.


  1. justin

     /  April 19, 2011

    All three guys that PC is interviewing would be solid pick-ups, and guys I would hope UMass would talk to if the Don Cahoon Experience ends on a sour note.
    I’ll be honest, I’d be surprised if PC still has enough pull to get Leaman, but Cavanaugh would be a great fit for them. He’s been one of York’s top guys for a long time and has a billion contacts on the recruiting trail. Only question is if he can carry the coaching load (minimal head experience) and get kids to go to PC (I think yes on both counts).


    • Cavanaugh was supposedly waiting around for York to retire as his heir apparent. Wonder if that will change. But I agree, they all look like quality candidates, which makes you wonder why they’d take the job. Every year that goes by that PC job loses more of its luster.


  2. Anonymous

     /  April 19, 2011

    as long as PC plays in front of 200 family members, friends and about 63 students, nobody is going to get a recruiting class in there.


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