Frank Costanza would enjoy today’s Festivus Faceoff.
The curmudgeon “Seinfeld” character, played by Jerry Stiller, gave us the mythical holiday during the classic comedy series. It involves such items as an undecorated aluminum pole, the airing of grievances and feats of strength.
Although the date assigned to the Festivus “holiday” is Dec. 23, two of the teams, Capital Region rivals Union and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, certainly have some grievances to air right now.
The 10th-ranked Dutchmen (7-3-5) will face the Engineers (3-12) in a non-ECAC Hockey contest as part of the Festivus Faceoff double-header today at 4 p.m. at Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid. The second game pits North Country rivals Clarkson and St. Lawrence at 7:30.
The teams are still reeling from last weekend’s results.
Union played to ties at ECACH foes Quinnipiac and Princeton. The 3-3 draw against Princeton is still especially frustrating to the Dutchmen, since they had a 3-0 lead after two periods and then stopped playing hard. The Tigers took advantage and rallied to tie it, with the final goal — scored by Jack Berger — coming with goalie Sean Bonar out for an extra attacker late in the third.
“We’re taking steps to fix that,” Union coach Rick Bennett said. “We have all week. We’re going to continue to do that. But you never know until you play the hockey game. As a staff, we’ve addressed it, and we’re taking steps at practice this week to correct it.
“It starts with me. I should have had the troops a little bit more prepared for that third period. I’m not going to blame the players, that’s on me.”
But the players know that they need to keep up the intensity when they take a multigoal lead into the third period.
“We’re not happy with it,” Dutchmen
defenseman Greg Coburn said. “Anytime you blow a three-goal lead, you’re not happy about it.”
“We’re trying to learn from it, and move on from there,” Dutchmen forward Daniel Carr said. “Now, we’re focused on RPI.”
The Engineers are upset for a couple of reasons.
First, they lost both of their games last weekend, 5-3 to Princeton and 3-2 to Quinnipiac. In the Quinnipiac loss, the Bobcats’ Yuri Bouharevich scored with 2.4 seconds left in regulation to snap a 2-2 tie.
“We’ve got grievances, we’re not playing good enough,” RPI coach Seth Appert said. “We’re finding ways to lose. We’ve played 15 games, and in 12 or 13 of them, we’re in position to win, and we’re not winning them. Losing teams find ways to lose. Winning teams find ways to win. We need to become a winning team, and that comes from some of those guys in that locker room. [They] have to grow up real quick.”
The other grievance RPI has is that it didn’t play well the last time it faced Union on Nov. 15 at Houston Field House.
After taking a 1-0 lead early in the first period, the Engineers didn’t have an answer in stopping the Dutchmen. Carr had a hat trick, and Kelly Zajac and Jeremy Welsh also scored to help Union to a 5-1 win.
“We’re just going to compete a lot harder than the last game we played them,” RPI goalie Scott Diebold said. “We’re going to be a lot stronger than the last time.”
Appert wants his team to have a good feeling going into the Christmas break. RPI won’t play again until it faces UMass-Lowell in the UConn Hockey Classic Dec. 29.
“There should be a bad taste from the whole first half of the year,” Appert said. “I don’t know if I see enough of that, personally, as much as I have. I would like to see more of that from our older guys, especially, more of a distaste and dislike for what has happened, and a will and a want to do something about it. You can accept your lot in life, or you can make your own. I’d like to see our guys have a little more will and want to make their own.
“Hopefully, we’re a little disturbed and perturbed about the way we played against Union the last time, but also about the first half of the season and that we want to do something to change it.”
Bennett expects RPI to be much tougher than it was last month.
“I don’t see a happy team coming up to Lake Placid to play us,” Bennett said. “We’re not very happy, either. Hopefully, it will be a good, hard-fought game, which it usually is.”