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College Hockey:
Fun With Numbers, Part V: The WCHA

For the record, despite my disappointing grade in freshman calculus once upon a time, I am perfectly capable of counting, so yes, I do know that I tracked six CCHA players instead of five. With a team like Miami, having been so dominant and so balanced this season, I thought it made sense to toss one more RedHawk into the mix, particularly since Carter Camper and Tommy Wingels have (for now) the same number of points.

The reason I bring this up is because in looking at another top team, Wisconsin, as I apply Ken Campbell’s “Campbellnomics” stats to the WCHA’s top-scoring forwards, I expanded one more time, and included not one, not two, but three Badgers in my analysis.

(Cue UHF line: “Badgers? Badgers? We don’t need no stinking Badgers!)

Actually, we do need them, sicne they’re one of the top teams in the country, and they have one of the top offenses in college hockey. Of course, it’s also an offense that has some balance to it, with four players with 28 points or more, including three 30-point scorers, and where the Badger forwards are concerned, that’s not a good thing in the Hobey race (we’ll get to Brendan Smith in our last installment). With a team that’s winning big – thanks to both that prolific offense and a stifling defense – and getting production from many different sources (seven players have five or more goals), the chances that a given player will be involved on the deciding goal(s) of the game are reduced. That’s trouble in the Campbellnomics system, which awards points only on six types of goals: first goal, go-ahead goal, tying goal, comeback goal, last lead, and overtime (you get one point per goal and half a point per assist for each category the goal falls into).

Applying the system to the Badgers’ top forwards, the fine seasons being enjoyed by Derek Stepan and Michael Davies take a hit. Davies, who’s 13th in the country with 1.28 points per game on 11 goals and 21 assists, totals just 13.5 Campbellnomics points, for an average of .54 CPPG. Derek Stepan, meanwhile, has 31 points (6g, 25a) in 25 games, and ranks 18th in the country with 1.24 points per game, but the digits get flipped in Campbellnomics, and he has 13 points for an averaged of .52 CPPG. The big impact man among Wisconsin’s forwards is Blake Geoffrion, which makes sense, since the system favors goals, and he’s the top goal scorer for Mike Eaves’ team. Geoffrion’s 18 goals and 10 assists in 26 games give him an average of 1.08 PPG (45th in the nation), and his Campbellnomics score is 17 points, good for .65 CPPG.

Meanwhile, at Minnesota Duluth, forwards Jack Connolly and Justin Fontaine have been having big years for the Bulldogs, ranking 10th and 17th, respectively, in the nation in points per game. Surprisingly, despite similar point breakdowns (16g, 23a for Connolly, 17g, 19a for Fontaine), Fontaine scores significantly higher in the Campbellnomics system, as his 20.5 Campbellnommics points average out to .71 CPPG, compared to 16.5 Campbellnomics poitns and .55 CPPG for Connolly.

The big winner in the WCHA, though, is Denver forward Rhett Rakhshani. Rakhshani – and how come no video game geek in Denver has nicknamed him “Prince of Persia?” – is 16th in the nation in scoring with 17 goals and 18 assists in 28 games for an average of 1.25 points per game, and when the Campbellnomics system, he leapfrogs the WCHA’s other top scoring forwards, for 23 Campbellnomics poitns and a .82 CPPG average.

Of course, through all of this, there’s an elephant in the room, since Brendan Smith is the one who got me started on all this. But that’s fine, because the defensemen are next.

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