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Rensselear, Union men’s hockey teams hit hard by suspensions

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ALBANY - A brawl between the Rensselaer and Union men’s hockey teams that started at the end of a game last Saturday has become national news as footage of it aired on ESPN’s SportsCenter.

RPI snapped a 10-game losing streak to its area rival with a 2-1 win in a nonconference game last Saturday in Albany, claiming the Mayor’s Cup. In the closing moment’s video shot by fans shows Union defenseman Kyle Bodie crosschecking an RPI player near the head, which led to an all-out brawl, resulting in nine players earning penalties and four picking up game disqualifications.

Even the coaches got into the fight as Union’s Rick Bennett had to be forcibly restrained as he tried to punch RPI coach Seth Appert.

The result of the melee is both teams are shorthanded as they traveled to the north country this weekend to face Clarkson and St. Lawrence. Interestingly, both teams are staying in Canton’s Best Western hotel.

Because of penalties imposed by the league, Clarkson will play each game this weekend against an opponent who is missing their head coach.

RPI’s Appert, who was not initially suspended, was handed a one-game suspension on Wednesday afternoon by ECAC Hockey and will miss tonight’s game. The Engineers will be led by assistants Brian Vines and Nolan Graham.

Union coach Rick Bennett was initially suspended for two games by his own school, and on Monday ECAC Hockey said it agreed with that punishment. On Wednesday, however, the league tacked two more games on to Bennett’s suspension. The Dutchmen will be coached this weekend by Joe Dumais.

The Engineers will also be missing four players in tonight’s game, including leading scorer Ryan Haggerty (19 goals-11 assists). RPI is 1-10-1 this season in games when Haggerty does not score a goal.

Also missing for RPI is forward Mike Zalewski (5 goals-10 assists), the younger brother of former Clarkson standout Steve Zalewski, as well as defensemen Bo Dolan (0-5) and Luke Curardi (2-3).

Union will be without Bodie, a defenseman who ranks second on the team in scoring with three goals and 20 assists, for both games this weekend.

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