BOSTON - The Bruins joined the hockey world this past weekend in mourning the loss of former Providence College forward Drew Brown, who passed away after a lengthy battle with cancer on Saturday morning.
While with the Friars, the 25-year-old Michigan native was teammates with Bruins forwards Noel Acciari and Tim Schaller and became close friends with Acciari during their three seasons together.
Acciari, who played on Saturday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs after learning of Brown's passing, missed Monday's practice to be with Brown's family in Michigan. He is expected to meet the team in California on Wednesday.
"Our condolences go out to the Brown family and to Noel," Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said following Monday's practice at Warrior Ice Arena. "I can't speak for him. At a young age like that, I can't imagine. For him to try to play the other night, I give him credit. But at the end of the day everyone grieves differently and we'll give him as much time as he needs."
Brown played in 75 games for the Friars from 2011-14 before being diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma, a rare bone cancer, following a routine MRI for an unrelated injury suffered in the 2014 Hockey East Playoffs.
"Hell of a player…and off the ice too. I don't know anyone who didn't like Drew. Everyone always had something good to say about him," said Schaller, who played two seasons with Brown. "He was more worried about how we were doing than himself. Just a good character kid…he definitely left behind good memories with everyone. He's gonna be missed."
Brown was unable to play during PC's run to a National Championship in 2014-15 - his senior season - but remained an important part of the team and was at TD Garden when the Friars defeated Boston University in the title game.
"Hard-nosed guy. He was a hunter and a fisher, kind of a blue-collar guy and that's kind of how his game was too," said Schaller. "That's what the coaching staff was praising over there and I think guys tried to play like Drew. When they won the national championship he had a lot to do with that team even though he didn't play. He was a big inspiration and a big reason why they won that ring."
Providence played in honor of Brown on Saturday night and defeated the University of Massachusetts, 7-2, a fitting tribute to the man who wore No. 7 during his time with the Friars.
"I was getting emotional watching the presser and [Providence coach Nate Leaman] was talking and some of the guys were talking," said Schaller. "It's funny how things work like that."
Brown is survived by his parents, Duke and Sandy, his younger sister Nicole, and his fiancée Michelle. Donations to Brown's family can be made at his GoFundMe page.