February 1, 2014

ECAC Journal: Union looks to steady ship after suspensions

By Dan Guttenplan

Union coach Rick Bennett (Springfield, Mass.) was suspended for a total of four games for his actions in a postgame altercation between his Dutchmen and the RPI Engineers. (Photo: Union College Athletics)

Only time will tell the effect a postgame brawl against RPI – and the ensuing fallout of suspensions – will have on the Union hockey team. 

At the time of the incident, Union sat in first place in the ECAC Hockey standings and was listening to the final horn sound in a 2-1 loss to RPI, which ended a 10-game winning streak against the rivals.

A postgame scrum erupted on the ice, prompting Union coach Rick Bennett (Springfield, Mass.) to leave the bench to confront RPI coach Seth Appert. Bennett pushed Appert, as videos will attest, before pushing a pile of bodies toward the RPI bench.

At first, ECAC Hockey assessed Bennett a two-game suspension, and dished out suspensions to two players, including Union defenseman Matt Bodie (2 games) and junior forward Daniel Ciampini (1 game). Upon further review, ECAC Hockey added two games to Bennett’s suspensions, keeping one of the conference’s top coaches off the bench until mid-February.

“ECAC Hockey has continued to review the entire situation that occurred Saturday,” said Commissioner Steve Hagwell. “After additional review and consideration, and discussions with league administrators, additional sanctions have been assessed.

“The league members pride themselves on adhering to the highest level of sportsmanship. Those objectives were not attained Saturday.”

The initial reviews are mixed as to how Union will handle the adversity at midseason. The Dutchmen suffered just their second road loss of the season in dropping a 2-1 decision to St. Lawrence at Appleton Arena Friday evening.  The Dutchmen (16-6-3/10-3-0) also dropped out of first place in ECAC Hockey, as Quinnipiac moved ahead by a point with a win.  Meanwhile, St. Lawrence (9-13-3/3-7-3), snapped its nine-game winless streak.

Player of the Week

Kyle Baun, Colgate University
Sophomore, Forward

Baun tallied Colgate's first hat trick of the season and the first of his career in a 7-3 win over St. Lawrence last Saturday. Two of the goals came on the power-play with one proving to be the game-winner.

Game of the Week

Cornell at Yale, Saturday (7 p.m.)

Cornell is riding an eight-game unbeaten streak and has lost just once in its last 12 games (8-1-4). Big Red junior blueliner Joakim Ryan is third in the nation in points per game for defensemen (0.95). Just six games into the season, Ryan had already equaled his goal total from all of last year with three. The Bulldogs are the sixth least penalized (9.1 minutes, tops in ECACH) team in Division 1. Yale ranks eighth in defense (2.26, 2nd in ECACH) and 11th in offense (3.32, 4th ECACH). Five of Yale's last 10 regular season games are against teams currently nationally ranked.

 ECAC Rankings

1. Quinnipiac (18-4-5; 8-2-3): The Bobcats have been ranked in the top 10 nationally for 15 straight weeks. That's what coach Rand Pecknold means when he talks about sustained success.

2. Union (16-5-3; 10-2-0): Senior defenseman Mat Bodie received a two-game suspension from ECAC Hockey for starting a fight after the final horn in a loss against RPI in the Mayor's Cup Saturday night. Junior forward Daniel Ciampini also received a one-game suspension for participating in the post-game incident. Coach Rick Bennett (Springfield, Mass.) was issued a two-game suspension for pushing RPI coach Seth Appert.

3. Yale (10-5-4; 5-4-3): Yale sits at No. 18 in the Pairwise rankings, but the Bulldogs have a chance to climb as three of their next four games are against teams ranked higher than them.

4. Colgate (13-9-3; 9-3-1): Sophomore forward Kyle Baun had a big weekend, recording the first hat track of is career in a 7-3 win over St. Lawrence Saturday. He also had an assist in a 3-2 win over Clarkson Friday.

5. Clarkson (15-9-2, 8-4-0): Here's an interesting stat from Clarkson's 0-2-0 weekend through Central New York for Colgate and Cornell. Clarkson is 0-6-2 in its last eight trips to Hamilton.

6. Cornell (10-4-5; 6-3-4): Cornell just missed out on a four-point weekend with a win over Clarkson Saturday and a 4-4 tie against St. Lawrence Friday. Had Cole Bardeau scored on a penalty shot with 32.4 seconds remaining in overtime Friday night, the Big Red might be the ECAC Hockey team making headlines this week.

7. Brown (8-8-3; 5-6-1): Not a bad weekend for the Bears, who split with Yale. The only bad news is Brown seemed a little complacent Saturday after the Friday night win. They fell 6-0.

8. RPI (10-10-4; 4-5-3): Junior goaltender Scott Diebold was 2-0-0 last weekend with a 1.50 GAA and a .946 save percentage. He made 53 saves over two games -- a 4-2 win over Dartmouth and a 2-1 win over Union.

9. Harvard (5-11-3; 2-9-3): The Crimson have lost five straight since starting 2014 with a win over Boston University and a tie against Quinnipiac.

10. St. Lawrence (8-13-3; 2-7-3): St. Lawrence has gone 0-8-1 since its last victory two months ago on Nov. 29.

11. Dartmouth (3-14-3, 2-10-1): A sign the Big Green are not playing well: RPI snapped a six-game winless streak against them Friday night.

12. Princeton (4-15-0; 3-9-0): With all of the teams at the bottom of the ECAC Hockey standings riding long losing streaks, the Tigers rise in the rankings by remaining idle for three weeks.

Twitter: @Dan_Guttenplan

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