​Hockey Team Erupts Into Brawl Between Two Coaches​​

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January 27, 2021

Hockey team erupts in brawl between two coaches on Jan 25 involving Union’s Rick Bennett and RPI’s Milos Bubela. Things got so bad between the coaches that referees have to pull them apart at the Times Union Center on Saturday.

The fight started after a pair of college hockey rivals from the Albany area squared off Saturday night.

Coaches and players from RPI and Union exchanged punches after the game, won by RPI, 2-1. Both coaches apologized for the incident but would not elaborate on the cause of the animosity, according to the Times Union.

There were 125 minutes in penalties called and four players received game disqualifications.

Union, the No. 3 team in the nation, had beaten RPI 10 consecutive times.

“I’m actually embarrassed by my actions,” Union coach Rick Bennett told the Times Union said after the game. “RPI played a great game. They deserved to win.”

“Sometimes things boil over,” RPI coach Seth Appert told the newspaper. “That’s not the way we want to be portrayed and I’m sure they don’t either. I still have a tremendous amount of respect for Rick Bennett and the Union hockey team. He’s a great coach and person.”

Officials cancelled the post-game handshakes. The ECAC Hockey conference is already investigating to decide to what extent each team should be sanctioned.

The rivalries in NCAA Division I college hockey are much more deep-seated and visceral than anywhere else in the sport within North America. Campuses are often in close proximity, students and alumni get emotionally invested, plus there are pep bands in the stands. Like in college football, beating a rival can often redeem a mediocre season. The win ended RPI’s 10-game losing streak vs. Union, but instead both teams were in damage control mode. No one wanted to talk about what touched off the brawl.

The tone seems a little different from they they-started-it rhetoric you typically hear at the NHL level, as both teams realized this was unacceptable. It’s notable players were shown retrieving their sticks and helmets before Bennett tried to get at Appert.