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Orange Throwing Leaves Union Sour

College Hockey Notebook

By Ken Schott

Schenectady Daily Gazette, January 16, 2002

Union College coach Kevin Sneddon has a favor to ask of the Dutchmen fans attending tonight's game with Capital Region rival Rensselaer at Achilles Rink: Keep your oranges home.

The tradition of Union fans throwing oranges onto the ice following the first goal of the game scored by the Dutchmen started in the team's Division III days, when Hamilton was its biggest rival. When the Dutchmen moved up to Division I in 1991, the Engineers became the target of the oranges.

"It's not welcomed here at Achilles Rink," Sneddon said. "As a fan coming in, it disrespects the players. There's going to be two great college hockey teams on the ice providing a lot of entertainment for the people who are coming to the game. It's an insult to the players that oranges are thrown on the ice."

"I would insist that fans don't do it. It's uncalled for and potentially dangerous."

And it could affect the game's outcome.

There is usually a warning issued to fans that the home team will be assessed a two-minute delay of game penalty if objects are thrown on the ice after a goal. That happened in the Jan. 25, 1997 game between RPI and Union.

When Pat O'Flaherty gave the Dutchmen a 1-0 lead 3:42 into the game, oranges came raining down. A warning was issued.

Jeff Sproat made it 2-0 for Union at 7:14 of the second period. After Charlie Moxham's goal gave the Dutchmen a 3-0 lead 51 seconds later, a few more oranges were thrown on the ice. Referee Scott Leavitt called a delay of game penalty on the Dutchmen, and the tide turned. The Dutchmen lost the momentum, and the Engineers rallied to earn a 3-3 tie.

"Hopefully, it doesn't happen," Sneddon said. "We don't want it, the players don't want it and certainly RPI doesn't want it. Once penalties are being assessed, then other objects start floating on the ice."

Security is expected to be increased for the game. Fans who throw anything onto the ice will be ejected from the building.

Capital Skates trophy

The Capital Skates Classic, the non-league game that was played between RPI and Union between 1996 and 1999, may not be around anymore, but the trophy that was given to the winner of the game still is.

Here's a suggestion: The trophy should be given to the winner of the two-game series, and it should be presented following the conclusion of the final game.

Union has the trophy in its possession, but it was never publicly presented after it won the series last season.

There should be some guidelines on presenting the trophy in case the series is tied.

  • Should both teams win a game, the trophy should be given to the team with the better goal differential. If the goal differential is tied, the trophy should be retained by the previous season's winner.
  • If both games end in a tie, the trophy should stay with the previous year's winner.

It would be fun for the players, fun for the fans.

Yurkewecz commits

RPI received a verbal commitment late last week from forward Mark Yurkewecz, who is from Troy.

Yurkewecz is a 6-foot-1, 178-pound left wing from Cushing Prep. He has nine goals and nine assists in 15 games this season.

The 21-year-old Yurkewecz played for the Capital District Selects before going to Cushing as an 11th grader.

Yurkewecz is the second recruit to commit to RPI for the 2002-03 season, and the first this season. Vernon Vipers defenseman Brad Farynuk committed to the Engineers for 2002-03 last season.

Senez leaves

While RPI said hello to one recruit, it bid farewell to another player.

Junior defenseman Francois Senez has withdrawn from school. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound native of Laval, Quebec, is expected to join Drummondville of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

Senez, 19, made just seven appearances this season for the Engineers. He did not have a point.

In 28 career games, Senez had three assists. He was selected by the Detroit Red Wings in the ninth round of last June's NHL draft.

Road warriors

Union's 4-3 victory at St. Lawrence on Friday was its third road win of the season. The Dutchmen are 3-4-1 away from Achilles.

Last season, the Dutchmen were 2-13-1 on the road.

Sauer resigns

Emotions were running high for Wisconsin coach Jeff Sauer last Wednesday.

Sauer, college hockey's fourth-winningest coach with 648 victories, announced his retirement after 31 years as a head coach, the last 20 with the Badgers.

The 58-year-old Sauer, who led the Badgers to 12 NCAA tournament appearances and two national titles, is comfortable with retiring. He doesn't believe he is being forced out because the Badgers have been struggling this season.

"The bottom line is, from my standpoint, it's time," Sauer said. "Whether the impression is that I'm being shoved away and all that kind of stuff, I don't look at it that way. I feel very confident in the fact that this is the right decision, and it's time to do that."

Sauer was angry, however, because he didn't get to make his retirement announcement on his own terms. The story that Sauer was considering retirement broke in last Tuesday's Wisconsin State Journal. He hadn't told his family and his coaching staff until word started leaking about his situation. Sauer was planning to make the announcement at the team's season-ending banquet.

"I don't think it was fair to me or my family the way this transpired," Sauer said. "I thought I deserved better. That's where I'm at with that."

Sauer did have some regrets, particularly the Badgers' behavior following their 5-3 loss to Lake Superior State in the 1992 NCAA Frozen Four final at Knickerbocker Arena (now Pepsi Arena). The team was upset with several third-period penalty calls by referee Tim MacConaghy, and verbally abused him after the game.

The NCAA stripped the Badgers of their second-place finish, and Sauer was suspended for one NCAA tournament game.

"We had the game won, and we got ourselves in some penalty trouble," Sauer said. "I have yet to ever watch the tape of the game."

Slap shots

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Fresh off his appearance in the World Junior Championships, Yale freshman forward Chris Higgins was named ECAC player of the week. Higgins had three goals and three assists in two games. He has two goals and two assists in Friday's 5-2 win over Brown.