BOSTON -- Boston Bruins forward Noel Acciari spent the last month raising awareness and funds for his good friend and fellow former Providence College hockey player Drew Brown, who had cancer.
Brown died Saturday. He was 25.
Brown stopped playing hockey when it was discovered that he had Ewing Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, after having an MRI for a leg injury sustained in 2014. He remained a part of the Friars when they won the 2015 NCAA championship with Acciari as captain.
"When we won the national championship, that whole year I felt was fueled for Drew," Acciari told NHL.com on Nov. 8. "I felt that the team, coaching staff, everyone at Providence College backed Drew from when he found out to right now."
Brown had chemotherapy to remove the tumor and went back to Providence to finish college as an assistant student coach in 2014-15 and graduated in 2016. The cancer returned soon after, spreading to his lungs.
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"He never was down about anything, especially when times were tough," said Bruins forward Tim Schaller, who played with Brown in Brown's first year at Providence. "He was always smiling. You'd ask how he was doing, he was almost more worried about how we're doing vs. how he's doing. Just a good character kid. It's tough when a good one goes like that. But he definitely left behind good memories with everyone. He's definitely going to be missed.
"I think 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, a big reason why they won that ring."
Brown and Acciari had played together since prep school, both attending Providence and rooming together. While the Bruins practiced Monday, Acciari was in Michigan with Brown's family. Using a GoFundMe page, Acciari spent recent weeks trying to raise money for Brown's medical expenses in conjunction with the NHL's Hockey Fights Cancer initiative. He raised more than $57,000 as of Monday.
"Our condolences go out to the Brown family and to Noel," Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. "At a young age like that, I can't imagine."
Acciari played for the Bruins against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday. Cassidy said he would get as much time as he needs in terms of making his return to the Bruins, who begin a four-game road trip against the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday (10 p.m. ET; SN360, PRIME, NESN).
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"[Heck] of a player. That came from how good of a guy he was off the ice too," Schaller said. "I don't know anyone who didn't like Drew. He always had something good to say about everyone. … He was a hunter and a fisher, kind of a blue-collar guy. That's kind of how his game was too."
Providence defeated the University of Massachusetts 7-2 on Saturday during what was called "I fight for Drew Brown Night." Brown, whose family received all proceeds from the game, wore No. 7.
"I was getting emotional watching the presser after the game and [coach] Nate [Leaman] was talking, some of the guys were talking," Schaller said. "It's funny how things work."