From the Crease: Scrivens Seizes the Spotlight

I can’t really explain what it was that made me fire up the video stream of last night’s Edmonton Oilers/San Jose Sharks game, but I’m glad I did, even if it meant a limited amount of sleep for those of us out East. If you don’t live in a hockey black hole, by now you know about Edmonton’s Ben Scrivens 59-save performance in a 3-0 win over the Sharks.

1391062001000-01-29-2014-Ben-Scrivens

I got to know Scrivens pretty well during his time at Cornell when I was serving as that school’s hockey SID, and the public persona that he displays in interviews is the real thing. Anyone who’s worked in hockey knows players who are very different when the cameras are turned off. That’s not Ben, and that’s why it’s so great to see him getting his moment in the spotlight.

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Union’s Bennett Deserves Lengthy Suspension

If you watch WTEN/WXXA-TV photographer Justin Andrews’s YouTube video of the aftermath of Saturday’s Union-Rensselaer game at the Times Union Center in Albany, N.Y., there’s a moment around the 48-second mark where Union coach Rick Bennett, while being restrained by officials, attempts to throw a punch at RPI coach Seth Appert.

Full disclosure: I’ve known Appert since we both worked at Denver in the late 1990s and consider him a friend. That relationship does not factor into this discussion, however.

Based on the clip, however, it appears Bennett’s fist connects with the helmet of Milos Bubela, an RPI player trying to keep the coaches separated.

Tossing a haymaker at an opposing player, one would assume, was not Bennett’s intent. But it sure looks like that’s what happened. If that’s the case, Bennett needs to be severely punished.

Look, I didn’t see the game. I don’t know what transpired leading up to that final faceoff and the ensuing chaos. I’m not absolving others involved in the fracas for their transgressions. They, too, should be punished.

That said, rule no. 1 for people of authority—coaches, officials, and the like—in amateur sports is never, ever get physical with a student-athlete from another team. What Bennett did wasn’t as egregious as ex-Ohio State football coach Woody Hayes slugging a Clemson player during the 1978 Gator Bowl, but it happened. And as Ohio State president Harold Enarson said the following day at a press conference announcing Hayes’ dismissal, “There isn’t a university or athletic conference in this country that would permit a coach to physically assault a college athlete.”

Sunday, Union athletic director Jim McLaughlin suspended Bennett for the team’s next two games. He’s still allowed to run practices during the week. There’s also the chance ECAC Hockey commissioner Steve Hagwell could discipline Bennett. There’s also a chance—a pretty good one, in fact—that it won’t be enough.

So what constitutes an appropriate punishment? Should Bennett be fired? Without talking to anyone involved in the melee, I’m fairly confident he wasn’t trying to slug Bubela. I could give Bennett the benefit of the doubt, but zero-tolerance types could make a pretty strong case for his ouster.

Putting intent aside, however, this sure looks like a case of a coach making physical contact with an opposing player.

That just can’t happen—ever. Bennett must be suspended for the rest of this season.

INCH Writers Rankings: The Top Whatever

abe_simpsonHey, it’s an actual post!

You know that old saying about a body in motion staying in motion and a body at rest saying at rest? That’s how it works with writing. Once you stop, it’s a bitch to start up again. That and everything I felt like talking about seemed more like complaining. Like outdoor hockey games. They suck and everyone knows they suck, but you don’t really need me to tell you that. I was one step from becoming Abe Simpson.

Anyway, here are some teams ranked from best to not-quite-as-good-but-still-pretty-good. If your favorite team isn’t mentioned, make your own list or root for a better program. On with the countdown …

1. Minnesota (17-2-3/7-0-1): The Gophers have been the top team since Day One. For most of the season, they’ve been the undisputed No. 1—as in, no one has been nearly as good—but BC is rapidly closing that gap.

2. Boston College (17-4-3/11-1-1): If there’s any question forward Johnny Gaudreau (48 points in 24 games) isn’t the best player in college hockey, I’m here to tell you there’s not. If he doesn’t win the Hobey, they should just stop giving out the award.

3. Quinnipiac (18-4-5/8-2-3): There’s not much of a difference between Nos. 3-6 on this list. Someone could completely rearrange these four spots and I wouldn’t have a problem with it. I guess I favor the Bobcats because the hardest thing to do in hockey is score goals, and they’re pretty good at that.

action_uni_stevens4. Union (15-4-3/9-2-0): Is Shayne Gostisbehere Union’s best player? Probably, but goalie Colin Stevens (that’s him on the right) would get my vote for team MVP.

5. Ferris State (17-5-3/12-2-2): The Bulldogs are 7-4-3 when tied or trailing after the first period. Seems like a recipe for success against Ferris until you see they’ve outscored opponents by a 30-11 margin in the game’s first 20 minutes.

6. St. Cloud State (12-4-4/7-3-2): The Huskies have five NHL draft picks on their roster. Three of them (Johnny Brodzinski, Nic Dowd, and Kevin Gravel) are property of the Los Angeles Kings. That has nothing to do with SCSU’s play this season. It’s just an interesting factoid. Use it at your next social event.

7. Wisconsin (13-6-1/4-2-0): Did you know how crummy the Badgers have been away from home? Granted, they’ve only played six road games, but Bucky has one win and 12 goals in those half-dozen matches. That compares to 12 wins and 59 goals in 14 games at Kohl Center.

8. Northeastern (14-7-3/7-4-1): Saw the Huskies in person about six weeks ago and was impressed, but I can’t put a finger on what it was I liked. One thing that struck me was they played with a lot of poise and confidence, which would explain why they’ve been so good in one-goal games (5-1).

9. Providence (14-5-5/6-4-1): I’m not as high on the Friars than everyone else, it appears, probably because they’ve only got one win in their last six games. Prior to scoring seven in its win against Colorado College last Saturday, Providence had a total of eight goals in its previous five games.

10. UMass Lowell (15-6-2/5-3-1): With the emergence of Connor Hellebuyck last season, Doug Carr, who was terrific as a sophomore in 2011-12, almost became an afterthought in goal. This season, the two share duties almost equally and have been formidable, combining for a 1.85 GAA and a .935 save percentage.

action_ndk_gothberg11. North Dakota (12-7-3/7-5-0): Goaltender Zane Gothberg (pictured, right) is out indefinitely due to injury. Too bad, because NoDak really hit its stride when he took the reins at No. 1 goalie. During the team’s current nine-game unbeaten streak, Gothberg is 8-0-1 with a 1.76 GAA and a .923 save percentage.

12. Clarkson (15-7-2/8-2-0): I can typically find at least one statistic that explains a team’s success, but not in Clarkson’s case.They’re not particularly high scoring nor are they overly stingy on defense, and their special teams are mediocre. Oh, here it is—the Golden Knights are 12-3 in one-goal games.

13. Cornell (9-4-4/5-3-3): Some readers are certainly asking, Cornell ahead of Yale? Yes, because the Big Red has been better than the Elis as of late (6-1-3 over the last 10 games including a five-game unbeaten streak.)