Hat trick of trophies makes Union’s Bennett the choice as top coach

Rick Bennett led Union to a 32-win season and the national championship (photo: Jim Rosvold).

Of the six teams that won regular season championships in Division I men’s college hockey this season, only one also claimed its league’s postseason crown.

For good measure, coach Rick Bennett and Union added the big hardware at the end of the season.

In three seasons in charge at Union, Bennett has twice guided his teams to a sweep of the ECAC championships twice; last season, the Dutchmen finished fourth in the regular season but still won the playoff title.

Bennett and the Dutchmen posted 32 wins this season, a national high and the most in program history. The last of those wins was over Minnesota for the national championship, the first in Union’s history.

Those additions to Bennett’s resume were enough to earn USCHO’s coach of the year award.

In the last five seasons, only the 2011-12 Boston College team has posted more wins in a season (33) than the Dutchmen did this season.

It has to be noted that Bennett missed three of those wins and one of the team’s six losses after being suspended for a total of four games — two from his school and two more from ECAC Hockey. That followed an on-ice incident after a loss to Rensselaer in which Bennett shoved Engineers coach Seth Appert.

The Dutchmen’s loss on Jan. 31 at St. Lawrence — the first of the four games Bennett missed — was Union’s last of the season.

Union went 16-0-1 to close the season, at one point earning three straight shutouts and averaging 4.35 goals of offense per game.

USCHO’s awards were selected by staff writers at the Frozen Four. The All-USCHO teams and rookie of the year were unveiled earlier this week; the player of the year will be announced later Friday.


  1. No need to write this article, the photo would have been enough. Bennent deserved this award by a mile. Small school, D-1 hockey program wins National Championship. I would have loved to see Union vs. Colorado College (another small school that plays up in D-1 men’s hockey) in the finals.

  2. great choice USCHO, a very deserving selection. In the “it has to be noted…” category (does it really have to be?), if you are going to go there you need to give Bennett more credit than simply saying he “shoved…Appert”. I have kids at both schools, attended neither but have played the game for 50 years and coached for 35 (i.e. no bias, but informed). The rivalry btw RPI and Union is intense to be sure, however, responsibility for the “incident” needs to be shared by both coaches every time it is mentioned. Anyone who knows hockey, and particularly those who have coached hockey, know that what set Bennett off was Appert’s apparent inability or disinterest in keeping his players on the bench when the fighting broke out at the end of the game. And please don’t anybody whine about who “instigated” it, it was a tough, physical game with plenty of extracurriculars from both sides. There are a few things you just don’t do in hockey, and letting your bench stream onto the ice when a fight breaks out is one of them. I can understand how Bennett must have felt while controlling his bench with class having to watch his 5 skaters getting pummeled by the entire RPI squad. As a coach I view this lack of control or concern on Appert’s part as a much more serious hockey offense that the “shove” delivered by Bennett. I don’t mind a physical game (both teams can handle this) but I do believe that Bennett handled the incident as a whole with much more class and restraint than did Appert. So lets stop laying all of it on Bennett, or better yet, just let it go.

    • i’d love to let it go but you did such a great job putting the whole incident in perspectivce that i have to ask you a question – i am a huge union fan but just wondering, by itself, did bodie start it all with the cross check?

      • I view the Bodie cross-check (great kid BTW, glad to see him get a shot at the show) as an excuse for the RPI players more than the cause. There were plenty of similar or worse offenses by both sides. If you watch the whole game, partic the third period, it was a chippy affair as expected btw these teams. RPI came in with something to prove, played a very good game, but was the chippier of the 2. I wish Coach A had kept his kids on the bench, let the refs sort out the little dust up at the end, and enjoyed a satisfying win. Now there is talk of discontinuing the neutral ice series, which would be a shame.

      • You have to back to the last game between RPI and Union in Troy where Bodie had his head down trying to dig out a puck behind tha net and Haggerty (6’2 220) came along at full speed, after the game was out of reach, and tried to decapitate Bodie (6’0″, 165) which lead to a brawl and 140 minutes of penalties. This was a continuation of that incident.

  3. should add that both Union and RPI are fine schools (I am proud to have kids at both). Both coaches are fine coaches as well; as a coach I would be proud to send a kid to play for either.

  4. coach
    i suppose it would be a shame if they discontinued it, but it really would not make sense since they play each other twice anyways – however, not sure if you gave a strong argumentof the cross check – i love bodie but was it not brutally cheap


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