Monday, January 27, 2014

A Breakdown of Discipline

Before too much time has gone by, and before we get to the actual hockey part of the weekend, here's what we saw on video in the already much-discussed blowup that took place at the end of the Mayor's Cup game in Albany on Saturday night.

The game itself was not televised, but it took place in front of a passionate (reported) crowd of 7,100 fans. Two fans and a member of the media caught enough video of what happened to be able to string together a solid narrative on how things transpired.

These are the three videos we've used to piece everything together:
Justin Andrews
Frank Charbonier

Here's how it all appears to have gone down. I've tried to be as dispassionate as possible at what I was looking at, bearing in mind that there's no way to know what was being said on the ice.


Brock Higgs gained possession after a 6-on-5 sequence in the RPI zone as the waning seconds of the third period ticked down. He shot it down ice to kill more of the clock, causing an icing call after Union raced to the faceoff dots with 1.7 seconds remaining.

Mike Vecchione and Mike Zalewski squared off in the faceoff circle to Scott Diebold's left. The RPI setup was twofold. Plan A was for Zalewski to win the faceoff back into an empty corner, which would be enough to drain the remainder of the clock and win the game. Plan B, if Union won the draw, was to move the remaining four players lined up in the slot to cut down on shooting lanes and block any shots. For Union it was fairly straight forward - win the puck back to either Mat Bodie near the boards or Daniel Carr in the slot, who would then seek to whip a shot on net.

Zalewski won the draw back to the corner and basically stayed in position at the dot. To their credit, Max Novak and Vecchione didn't give up, as Novak streaked into the corner to try and grab the puck - it looked like his job from the start was to get behind Zalewski in case he won the draw in the first place - while Vecchione cut to the net to try and take a pass, but realistically there wasn't enough time to get that done. The horn sounded before Novak could get to the puck, giving the Engineers the 2-1 victory.

Higgs was lined up next to Novak, but his task was to cut down Mat Bodie's shooting options. Once the puck was dropped, he strode through the faceoff circle toward Bodie, and once he didn't see the puck coming backwards, he turned to see it over in the corner. Once he was facing away, Bodie hit him with a two-fisted cross-check to the side of the head. The hit didn't put Higgs down, and the RPI senior took some swipes at Bodie's helmet, pulling it off his head from the back on the second try. Bodie backed off after losing his lid, with Carr coming to his aid. Referee Chip McDonald stood in front of Higgs at that point to try and end things right there.

By this time, RPI players are coming off the bench to celebrate the victory, led by Johnny Rogic and Ryan Haggerty, making a beeline toward the crease as most teams do after any win. The initial Bodie-Higgs confrontation was playing out directly in the route. The next contact is made by Carr, who sized up Haggerty coming off the bench and gave him a shot right to the cage as RPI players behind Rogic began running into each other as Rogic skated to a halt in front of McDonald and Higgs.

Bo Dolan, meanwhile, maneuvered around Rogic and went after Bodie, who quickly had two linesmen separating him from most of the Engineers. Carr put Haggerty in a headlock and put him down on the ice, and dominos started falling from there. Jake Wood arrived to try and pull Carr off Haggerty, and that earned him a glancing blow from Daniel Ciampini, who was joining the fray. That then got Jimmy DeVito involved as he put a blindside hit on Ciampini. Vecchione then went after DeVito, followed by Dolan who was tracking down the Union freshman. Dolan pulled Vecchione away, toward the far corner away from the benches, trying to fight him. Dolan tossed his gloves off as Vecchione pulled his helmet off, beckoning for Vecchione to come at him. Nothing really came of it as referee Scott Whittemore came over to shut down the confrontation.

About the same time as the Dolan-Vecchione flareup, while Ciampini was near the blue line pulling Wood's helmet off his head and then getting in a shoving match with Guy Leboeuf, Bodie was skating through the area and got grabbed by Zalewski, who initially looked to be simply trying to keep Bodie from joining the Ciampini-Wood dustup. The two glided out towards center ice, eventually with Zalewski dropping his stick and his gloves in response to some heated shoving going back and forth as they jawed at each other. Eventually, Bodie grabbed Zalewski by the cage and ripped his helmet off his head, which was followed by a couple of punches being thrown by Zalewski. Bodie than let go of Zalewski and shoved him, ending the confrontation.

Shayne Gostisbehere eventually grabbed DeVito shortly after his hit on Vecchione and pulled him over by the penalty box area, they seemed to mostly grab each others' jerseys and had a minor shoving match later on.

Meanwhile, as a scuffle started in the bench area between the coaches, Luke Curadi was standing next to Cole Ikkala watching the growing confrontation near the RPI bench. At one point, Curadi turns to Ikkala and gives him a hard shove, followed by a second one after Ikkala started moving toward the coach battle. This draws the ire of Carr and Novak nearby, who both shove Curadi backwards. Curadi and Novak get into a shoving match, and are joined by Eli Lichtenwald and Matt Wilkins, though Wilkins quickly returns to the benches near the coaches flareup. Lichtenwald begins doing battle with Curadi after Matt Tinordi and Charlie Vasaturo come and pull Novak off of Curadi. While this is going on, Curtis Leonard and Kevin Sullivan appear to be engaged in a shouting match, separated by Chip McDonald.

Curadi becomes the aggressor against Lichtenwald, who grabs Curadi in a bear hug shortly after the RPI junior delivers a gloved right to the Union freshman. Curadi then drags Lichtenwald down to the ice, they wrestle on the ground as RPI and Union players surround them until linesman Joe Testa comes and pulls Curadi off of Lichtenwald.

The Rick Bennett incident appears to start shortly after Bodie and Zalewski push away from each other. Seth Appert stepped off the RPI bench and started walking toward center ice. As he stood on the red line, near Curadi (ahead of his shoving of Ikkala) gesturing to his team, Rick Bennett exits the Union bench and walks briskly toward Appert. Bennett seems to be shouting and animated as he approaches, making a gesture with his right arm and then pointing at Appert with his left. As he reaches grasping distance he shoves Appert with his right arm. Appert looks like he's semi-retaliating with his left arm as Milos Bubela and Craig Bokenfohr arrive to push him away from Bennett. Linesman Glen Cooke tries to restrain Bennett.

Bennett maneuvered around Cooke and continued to advance toward Appert, who was being protected by Bubela in front of him and Bokenfohr behind him. Haggerty was also nearby. As Scott Whittemore steps in to try and provide additional barrier, Bennett grabs Bokenfohr's jersey as he tries to get to Appert. At this point RPI assistant coach Kirk MacDonald is on the ice and trying to keep Haggerty away from the situation and help Whittemore keep Bennett away from Appert. A Union assistant coach, John Ronan, is also trying to restrain Bennett as a mess of players from both sides behind the situation begins reacting to the twin issues of the coach melee and the Curadi-Ikkala incident nearby.

Bennett throws a right hand that hits Milos Bubela in the side of his cage, and MacDonald begins furiously shouting at Bennett. Ronan appears to start trying to get past Whittemore while gesturing to MacDonald. An unknown RPI assistant (or potentially, a player who was not in the game) restrains MacDonald near the bench, and Bennett is pushed back toward the Union bench. Haggerty then stood by while Bokenfohr and another unknown RPI assistant continued to restrain Appert, who was gesturing toward Bennett during the entire affair. At one point, Appert grabbed Bubela by the bottom of the jersey, but Bubela skated over toward the rest of the team near center ice dispersing from the Curadi-Lichtenwald fight.

Cooler heads appear to be prevailing at this point as Cooke and Whittemore get Bennett well away from Appert, but the two coaches are still clearly shouting at each other. Unknown RPI assistant (or player) #1, who had been restraining MacDonald, gets onto the ice. Cooke leaves the situation and heads toward center ice. Bokenfohr skates toward center ice but hesistates as Bennett walks around the Whittemore and Ronan and continues barking.

Whittemore continued to stay in Bennett's path, trying to keep the situation from flaring up again. The unknown RPI assistant (or player) then has a few choice words and shoves Bennett with his left hand. That redirects Bennett's ire toward the assistant, and Whittemore restrains Bennett again as the Union coach tries to reach for the URA(P). MacDonald steps in again, and Appert grabs URA(P), pulling him away from the situation before giving him a hard shove. RPI assistant Nolan Graham pushes MacDonald away from the flareup as Ronan and Whittemore do the same with Bennett.

Appert then sort of nudged Haggerty toward center ice as he began walking in the direction. The Engineers began their two-minute delayed celebration, and the fisticuffs were pretty much over. Union began shuffling toward the hallway to the locker room. The RPI coaches stood on the ice, outside the bench, having a discussion, which was joined by linesman Joe Testa.

Wilkins, Michael Pontarelli, and Dillon Pieri all appeared to reverse and try to line up for a handshake, but they were rebuffed by Whittemore, who held his hand out toward them while shaking his head, pointing back toward the Union bench. They turned around, but Bodie then came back out on the ice, holding his hand out and talking to Chip McDonald, who had been standing at center ice since the fracas broke. He seems to have been asking about the handshake and McDonald did nod his head at one point.

Both teams lined up for the handshake, separated by Testa, but Whittemore and Cooke skated back to center ice, and after all four referees conferred, Testa appeared to wave Union back to the locker room. Bennett stood between the line and the bench making a similar gesture, but it's not exactly clear who is making the call. The referees do appear to gesture the team back to the locker room before making eye contact with Bennett. The handshake line dissipated, and Union returned to the locker room ahead of the trophy presentation.


  1. I *thought* that the unknown assistant that was yelling at Bennett and gave him a shove was Vines. Height looked about right, and someone had tweeted about Bennett going after Vines at the game previously. Was he not on the bench that night?

    And in Calvertthedad's video, you can see Bennett is the one who calls off the handshake. He even said as much in his interview. I give Bodie credit (forgetting the earlier cross-check) for wanting to end the whole thing in a civil way.

  2. I didn't see Bennett behind the line initially, I have made a minor revision since it's not really apparent to me that Bennett is the one making the final call, especially since his gestures come after those of the referees.

  3. So, by my quick count:
    Union instigates the fight (including coaches): 19
    Union intervenes on behalf of a teammate (understandable, but still not ok): 1
    RPI instigates: 4
    RPI intervenes: 3

    Union 20 RPI 7

  4. Nice analysis of the video. I think you should take a look at the Zapruder film again.


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