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.

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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.)

NCAA Frozen Four Semifinal Preview: St. Cloud State vs. Quinnipiac

Thurs., April 11 • 8 p.m. ET ESPN2

BY THE NUMBERS

Overall
Conference
Home
Away
Neutral
SCSU
25-15-1
18-9-1 (T-1st)
15-7-0
8-7-1
2-1-0
QU
29-7-5
17-2-3 (1st)
15-4-3
11-1-2
3-2-0
Goals/Gm.
GA/Gm.
PP Pct.
PK Pct.
PIM/Gm.
SCSU
3.41 (2nd)
2.41 (T-15th)
17.6 (28th)
82.1 (33rd)
8.3 (1st)
QU
3.07 (18th)
1.63 (1st)
14.7 (42nd)
90.6 (1st)
15.9 (56th)

HOW THEY GOT HERE

ST. CLOUD STATE: Midwest Regional fourth seed
St. Cloud State 5, Notre Dame 1
St. Cloud State 4, Miami 1

QUINNIPIAC: East Regional first seed
Quinnipiac 4, Cansius 3
Quinnipiac 5, Union 1

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NCAA Frozen Four Semifinal Preview: Yale vs. UMass Lowell

Thurs., April 11 • 4:30 p.m. ET ESPN2

BY THE NUMBERS

Overall
Conference
Home
Away
Neutral
Yale
20-12-3
12-9-1 (3rd)
10-3-0
7-7-1
3-2-1
UML
28-10-2
16-9-2 (1st)
11-5-1
13-5-1
4-0-0
Goals/Gm.
GA/Gm.
PP Pct.
PK Pct.
PIM/Gm.
Yale
2.86 (26th)
2.69 (27th)
21.1 (T-10th)
83.5 (26th)
13.3 (39th)
UML
3.02 (21st)
2.00 (3rd)
16.6 (32nd)
85.7 (10th)
11.8 (20th)

HOW THEY GOT HERE

YALE: West Regional fourth seed
Yale 3, Minnesota 2 (ot)
Yale 4, North Dakota 1

UMASS LOWELL: Northeast Regional first seed
UMass Lowell 6, Wisconsin 1
UMass Lowell 2, New Hampshire 0

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From the Crease: Thoughts on the NCAA Tournament, Day 1

Thoughts and observations from a day of watching three of the four games in their entirety on Friday (I unfortunately missed the Niagara/North Dakota matchup) and observing much of the conversation of the day on Twitter.

yale• While many who follow college hockey might have been shocked at the first result of the day (Yale’s 3-2 overtime victory over Minnesota), it shouldn’t have come as that much of a surprise to listeners of the INCH Podcast. Mike Eidelbes has long mentioned that the Gophers were a supremely talented team, but one that didn’t appear to give the requisite effort needed on every shift, every night. The game-winning goal was a prime illustration of just how out-worked Minnesota was by a Yale team that has enjoyed a fair amount of success at this stage in the recent past under Keith Allain. That game served as an immediate wake-up call of just how wide-open this year’s tournament is. Continue reading

NCAA East Regional Preview

PROVIDENCE, R.I. | DUNKIN’ DONUTS CENTER
SATURDAY-SUNDAY, MARCH 30-31

Saturday: Quinnipiac vs. Canisius, 5:30 p.m. ET (TV: NESN, ESPN3)
Saturday: Boston College vs. Union, 9 p.m. ET (TV: ESPNU)
Sunday: Regional Final, 6:30 p.m. ET (TV: ESPNU)

quinnipiacNO. 1 SEED QUINNIPIAC BOBCATS
Location: Hamden, Conn.
Record: 27-7-5 overall (17-2-3 ECAC Hockey, first)
Qualified: At-large bid
NCAA Championships: None
NCAA Appearance: Second (most recent, 2002)
Head Coach: Rand Pecknold
Key Players: Jeremy Langlois, F, Sr. (38 GP, 12-18—30); Jordan Samuels-Thomas, F, Sr. (39 GP, 14-11—25); Loren Barron, D, Sr. (39 GP, 3-13—16); Eric Hartzell, G, Sr. (27-6-5, 1.52 GAA, .934 save pct.)
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NCAA West Regional Preview

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. | VAN ANDEL ARENA
FRIDAY-SATURDAY, MARCH 29-30

Friday: Minnesota vs. Yale, 2 p.m. ET (TV: ESPNU)
Friday: North Dakota vs. Niagara, 5:30 p.m. ET (TV: ESPNU)
Saturday: Regional Final, 4 p.m. ET (TV: ESPNU)

minnesotaNO. 1 SEED MINNESOTA GOLDEN GOPHERS
Location: Minneapolis, Minn.
Record: 26-8-5 overall (16-7-5 WCHA, tied for first)
Qualified: At-large bid
NCAA Championships: Five (1974, 1976, 1979, 2002, 2003)
NCAA Appearance: 34th (most recent, 2012)
Head Coach: Don Lucia
Key Players: Erik Haula, F, Jr. (36 GP, 16-33—49); Kyle Rau, F, So. (39 GP, 15-24—39); Nate Schmidt, D, Jr. (39 GP, 8-23—31); Adam Wilcox, G, Fr. (25-7-5, 1.85 GAA, .922 save pct.)

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INCH Writers 4×4: Version 3.0

Listen, I get that speculation is fun. It’s why people liked INCH Pick ‘Em, why we like mock drafts and handicapping the Oscars. But there comes a time when it gets to be too damn much.

Take Monday morning, for instance. Based on a few tweets I saw, there were people actively searching for a way Robert Morris could earn at at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. Now it’d be a great story if RMU got into the NCAA Tournament; the Colonials had a darn good season. But according to Jim Dahl of Siouxsports.com—he ran each of the more than 393,000 scenarios that could play out in next weekend’s conference tournaments—Robert Morris has a less than one percent chance of earning an at-large bid. You’ve got a better chance of being struck by lightning in your lifetime. Continue reading

INCH Writers Conference Playoff Preview

In lieu of those big, blown-out conference tournament previews we used to do at the old site—you know, back when we had actual writers and whatnot—here’s a pared-down version from your resident hack (WCHA rant not included.) Apologies to Yahoo college football/basketball hoops scribe Pat Forde for my blatant repackaging of his NCAA hoops league tourney previews. Besides, imitation is the most sincere form of something, someone said sometime. I think it was Carlos Mencia.

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INCH Writers 4×4: Version 2.0

Welcome to another edition of the INCH 4×4, where you get all of the NCAA Tournament speculation with none of the math. And this time around, I’ve got an axe to grind.

We all know an NCAA computer somewhere in Indianapolis determines the 16 teams most deserving of an invitation to the NCAA Tournament based on concrete data. That’s fine, I guess. Letting the computer cull the field makes the selection committee’s job real simple. As long as they can read a spreadsheet, count to 16, and then divide by four, they’re pretty much in the clear. It certainly keeps the scrutiny to a minimum.

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