College Hockey Slap Schotts: ECACH missed opportunity to send strong message
Saturday night’s Mayor’s Cup game will go down as a bleak day for RPI, Union and ECAC Hockey with what happened at the end of the Engineers’ 2-1 victory.
From Union defenseman Mat Bodie’s cross-check to the head of RPI forward Brock Higgs to Dutchmen coach Rick Bennett going after Engineers coach Seth Appert, it was just plain ugly and unfortunate.
Between the feed from the Times Union Center and the numerous videos posted on YouTube and ones emailed to him, ECACH commissioner Steve Hagwell had plenty of opportunities to see what unfolded in order to hand out additional suspensions. Four players — Bodie and teammate Eli Lichtenwald, and RPI’s Luke Cuardi and Mike Zalewski — were already suspended one game because of the game disqualifications they received. Plus, Union suspended Bennett on Sunday for two games, without pay, for his actions.
“Frankly, I don’t know where they all come from,” Hagwell said. “People were sending it to me. I saw video that was available. I didn’t document where they came from. I can tell you that I’ve seen a lot of video.”
Hagwell had the opportunity to make a statement Monday. I think he only got it half right.
He was correct in handing Bodie another game suspension for the cross-check, which triggered everything. I’ll talk about that in a moment.
He didn’t get it right with Bennett. Hagwell was satisfied with Union’s handling of it, so he didn’t give Bennett any additional games.
“We were apprised to this prior to Union’s announcement, and had discussions,” Hagwell said. “It was in line with what we felt was appropriate.”
I enjoy dealing with Bennett. He is a class act, and can be very entertaining with his comments. But he was in a rage that I had never seen before. He wanted a piece of Appert in the worst way and took a swing. One of the videos shows Bennett connecting to the side of RPI center Milos Bubela, who trying to push Appert away from the situation. We had a picture on Monday’s front news page showing Bennett with his arm cocked.
I thought Bennett should have gotten at least one more game, possibly two. But I have seen comments posted on Facebook and Twitter that Bennett should be fired. No, that’s not going to happen, nor should it happen.
At a press conference Monday at Messa Rink, Bennett regretted his actions.
“I don’t feel good about it,” Bennett said. “It was one bad choice. I will live with it, I’ll move on, I’ll learn from this and I’ll be a better coach from it.”
I asked Bennett if he felt fortunate that the league didn’t penalize him.
“No. No, I don’t,” Bennett said. “I respect their punishment, their decision. It’s well documented that the league has handed out suspensions before in the manner they’re supposed to, and I thought they did this time.”
As for Bodie, he is the team captain and probably should know better. Your team lost a game that to a rival, and sure, you are frustrated. But to try and take Higgs’ head off was inexcusable. And now, like Bennett, he will get the weekend off.
It’s not a good time for Bodie to be out, with the ECACH-leading Dutchmen holding on to a one-point over Quinnipiac. And the Dutchmen were swept in the North Country last season.
“I put the team in a bad spot, missing two games,” Bodie said. “I apologize to my teammates, apologize to the school for bringing this whole situation on.”
Bodie explained why he cross-checked Higgs in the head.
“He was coming at me,” Bodie said. “I guess emotions just got the best of me. ... I got the hands up too high, I guess. I tried to hit him in the chest, and just got a little too high.”
Hagwell handed out one-game suspensions to Union’s Daniel Ciampini and RPI’s Ryan Haggerty, the team’s leading scorer, and Bo Dolan. Haggerty and Dolan each got roughing minors and 10-minute misconducts. Ciampini didn’t even receive a penalty.
In speaking with RPI coach Seth Appert shortly after the suspensions were announced, he seemed very upset. The response I received to most of the questions I asked about the penalties was “No comment” before saying, “The league made their decision. There’s no reason to comment further on whether I agree or disagree with the decisions made by the league. It’s done and over with. You have to deal with the consequences of those decisions. That’s it.”
The brawl was all over the news nationally, being covered by the likes of ESPN, USA Today and The Huffington Post. Fans who shot videos posted them on YouTube and sent them on Twitter and Facebook.
It’s not the kind of attention anyone wants. Bennett apologized to his players for his actions.
“I really feel for our school, our president, our athletic director, everyone involved in our program, our Garnet Blades members and more importantly, our players,” Bennett said. “They didn’t deserve that from me. As much as I respect their support, they’ve been great through this.
“But in the same token, I have to be better than that.”
Both teams look bad. The league looks bad. Eventually, we will all move on until the next time the two teams meet.
Hagwell could have made the league look a little better. But he missed out.
I have three videos from Union’s press conference/.
To see the Bennett’s press conference, click here.
To see the Bodie’s press conference, click here.
To see the Ciampini and Cole Ikkala’s press conference, click here.
The ECACH-leading Dutchmen (10-2 ECACH, 16-5-3 overall) slipped from third to fourth. They earned 847 points. Union beat Harvard, 4-3, Friday before losing to RPI.
The ECACH has six teams in the poll. Besides Union, Quinnipiac is third, Cornell is 11th, Yale is 13th, Clarkson is 15th and Colgate is 18th.
Team (First Place Votes) Record Points Last Poll
1 Minnesota (44) 18- 2-4 994 1
2 Boston College (6) 18- 4-3 955 2
3 Quinnipiac 18- 4-5 877 4
4 Union 16- 5-3 847 3
5 St. Cloud State 13- 5-4 767 5
6 Ferris State 18- 6-3 737 6
7 Providence 15- 6-5 706 7
8 Massachusetts-Lowell 16- 7-2 660 8
9 Wisconsin 14- 7-1 536 9
10 Northeastern 15- 8-3 505 11
11 Cornell 10- 4-5 495 12
12 Michigan 12- 6-2 459 14
13 Yale 10- 5-4 426 10
14 Notre Dame 15- 9-1 361 15
15 Clarkson 15- 9-2 275 13
16 Denver 13- 8-5 224 16
17 North Dakota 13- 8-3 178 18
18 Colgate 13- 9-3 147 NR
19 Vermont 13- 9-3 138 17
20 Western Michigan 12- 8-4 104 19
Others receiving votes: Maine 43, Minnesota-Duluth 38, Bentley 7, New Hampshire 7, Bowling Green 6, Air Force 3, Mercyhurst 2, Minnesota State 1, Nebraska-Omaha 1, Ohio State 1.
USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Poll
(First-place votes in parentheses)
Rank School Last Week’s Ranking
1. Minnesota, 508 (32) 1
2. Boston College, 475 (2) 2
3. Quinnipiac, 433 4
4. Union, 390 3
5. St. Cloud State, 364 5
6. Ferris State, 346 6
7. Providence, 303 7
8. UMass Lowell, 296 8
9. Wisconsin, 216 9
10. Northeastern, 190 11
11. Cornell, 171 12
12. Michigan, 135 14
13. Yale, 125 10
14. Notre Dame, 75 15
15. Clarkson, 26 13
Others receiving votes: Colgate, 16; Denver, 13; North Dakota, 12; Minnesota Duluth, 9; Bentley, 1; Minnesota State, 1; Vermont, 1; Western Michigan, 1.
I have a vote in the USCHO.com poll. Here is how I voted.
2) Boston College
5) St. Cloud State
6) Ferris State
14) Notre Dame
19) North Dakota
20) Western Michigan
Union is tied for fourth with Ferris State in the PairWise Rankings.
Four other ECACH teams are rated. Quinnipiac is the highest-ranked team at No. 3. Cornell is tied for 10th with Michigan of the Big Ten. Colgate is tied for 14th with Minnesota Duluth of the NCHC. Clarkson is 16th.
The PairWise Ranking is a system which attempts to mimic the method used by the NCAA Selection Committee to determine participants for the NCAA Division I men’s hockey tournament.
To see the rankings, click here.
Daily Gazette/ECACH Four Stars
Time for my four stars of the week.
Player of the Week — Jesse Root, Yale
The senior center and Pittsburgh native (thank you, John Buccigross) had five assists in the Bulldogs’ 6-0 win over Brown on Saturday. In a 3-1 loss the night before against the Bears, Root had an assist.
Goalie of the Week — Scott Diebold, RPI
The junior netminder made 25 saves in Friday’s 4-2 win over Dartmouth. He was even better in the Engineers’ 2-1 upset of Union, stopping 28 shots, including a big glove save on a Max Novak shot with one minute left in the game.
Rookie of the Week — Alex Lyon, Yale
The freshman netminder stopped 28 shots to earn his first collegiate shutout in Saturday’s win over Brown.
Team of the Week — Colgate
The Raiders, the hottest team in the ECACH, swept Clarkson and St. Lawrence for the second time this season. Colgate has won six straight, and is 6-0-1 since the start of 2014.
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Good Tuesday! Good Hockey!
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