No joke: Rival hockey teams finish game with a punch line

RPI and Union end their Division I college game with a brawl that nearly brought the head coaches to blows.

The Best Western in Canton, N.Y., could be a swinging kind of place Friday night ... and not because of the musical entertainment in the lobby.

That's where the Union and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute men's hockey teams reportedly are both scheduled to stay on road trips less than a week after their Mayor's Cup game ended in a nasty skirmish that saw the head coaches go after each other on the ice Saturday in Albany.

Two players from each team will be suspended for their contests on Friday as the result of game disqualifications tacked on to five-minute majors, the big offenses among 125 minutes of penalties doled out after the final horn.

With 1.7 seconds left in the 2-1 victory, RPI players were ready to jump off the bench to celebrate snapping a 10-game losing streak to the Dutchmen. The horn sounded after a faceoff, but suddenly the 7,000 fans at Times Union Center were treated to pushing and name-calling that quickly escalated after Union players were caught up in the RPI swarm.

Union coach Rick Bennett and Engineers counterpart Seth Appert approached each other and were ready to rumble before the proverbial cooler heads (game officials and players) prevailed.

"I'm embarrassed about my actions," Bennett told The Times Union in the course of doling out apologies to just about everyone imaginable.

Appert was also decidely more gentlemanly once eveyone had time to reflect. "I have nothing but respect for Rick Bennett," he said. "He's a great coach and a great man."

OK, that's what they're saying now. But we have evidence that strongly suggests mixed feelings at best a few minutes earlier:

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