As the NCAA season progresses, I’m going to publish weekly rankings in conjunction with the USCHO poll. These rankings will be entirely statistics based with the explanation as to how those stats are developed here. As I prefer to do when compiling rankings, a team’s final ranking will be determined by a summation of their rankings in various statistical categories:
- Overall winning percentage (pct)
- Goal differential (+/-)
- Percentage of shots taken (S%) – (Editor’s Note – This is essentially the best imitator of Corsi %. I’m told that shot attempts (Shots on goal plus missed shots plus shots taken that get blocked) are recorded but that data is not available anywhere.)
- Percentage of shots taken relative to Opponents’ S% (Rel S%)
- S% versus teams with an S% of 50% or more
- Rel S% versus teams with an S% of 50 or more
- Shooting Percentage (Sht%)
- Save Percentage (Sv%)
The quality of competition statistics require all teams to have played multiple games so they will not be used this week. Also I have taken to making all of my spreadsheets available for download here.
The USCHO poll hasn’t been updated in two weeks leaving us with the above preseason rankings. I’m still skeptical Harvard can maintain their level of play given their losses, but Emerance Maschmeyer returns and with her in net they’ve always got a chance. The Pairwise Rankings aren’t relevant with several teams still not having started play so we’ll skip them this week.
Yes, a small sample size is going to produce some wonky results early on and everyone from Harvard down has yet to play a game. Eight teams make the NCAA tournament so we’ll run down the top eight
The Badgers cruised through the weekend against Providence with 5-1 and 8-1 victories and their statistical domination in those games is what has them slightly edging the Gophers, namely the fact that their shooting percentage is a whopping 15.3%. Not every opponent will be a Hockey East bottom feeder, but the early goings are encouraging for Wisconsin who split scoring among fifteen skaters. They’ll need that depth if they want to eclipse their WCHA rivals on the ice as well.
It would have been nice if the math and common sense had come up with the same answer, but those are the perils of using statistics in a vacuum. The Penn State Nittany Lions might not be among the elite teams, but they’re no slouches, and the Gophers handled them easily with 2-0 and 5-0 victories, the latter of which saw shots end 38-7 in Minnesota’s favor. Minnesota spread the wealth throughout its roster, with 11 players picking up points in the series.
My obvious bias as a Clarkson alum (not a hockey player) aside, the Golden Knights had perhaps the most impressive weekend, sweeping the St. Lawrence Saints in a nonconference home and home series. The Saints have been getting top ten votes in most polls and the Knights dominated the run of play all weekend, methodically handing out a 4-0 shutout on Friday and overcoming two sloppy goals against and a 2-0 deficit for a 3-2 victory on Saturday.
The Knights won shots 36-23 and 46-29 respectively and were threats to score pretty much at any given moment despite generally favoring a safe, smart style over explosive offense. It is hopefully a level of play they can carry into the season when ECAC games start.
4. Boston College
The Eagles arguably faced the toughest competition among teams in the top ten, depending on how you feel about St. Lawrence, sweeping the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs 4-1 and 4-2, never trailing once over the weekend. Last season’s Patty Kazmaier Award winner Alex Carpenter is already in high form notching four goals.
Here’s where it gets weird. The Raiders are most likely going to be ten or more spots down in these rankings come season’s end, but their 5-3 and 6-0 shellings of Robert Morris were exactly what you’d expect a solid team to do. The first game wasn’t even as close as the score indicated as Colgate briefly fell asleep allowing two goals in a 36 second span to let the Colonials within one before capping off the game with an empty netter a short time later.
6. St. Cloud State
And getting weirder. The Huskies benefited from playing new program Merrimack and from shooting 17.1% in 6-4 and 6-2 victories. Suffice it to say, neither of those things are going to be regular occurrences this season.
7. Bemidji State
Goaltender Brittni Mowat looks to be picking up where she left off last year, starting 2015-16 with a 3-0-0 record and one goal allowed on 42 shots this past weekend. Up front, Hanna Moher had a strong showing in Vermont with a goal and two assists. With proof that they are indeed pretty good, the Beavers have to be itching to get at the traditional WCHA powers.
8. Boston University
The Terriers looked for a time like they might lose both games this weekend facing 1-0 and 2-0 deficits respectively. Some of that can be credited to great goaltending from Connecticut’s Elaine Chuli and Maine’s Meghann Treacy but one has to wonder if the scoring punch that departed to the CWHL with Marie-Philip Poulin is going to be a recurring problem.
They won both games and piled up shots on goal (48-21 versus Connecticut and 40-20 versus Maine) so there’s no need to panic yet, but BU might be a cut below where they were last year.
The Best of the Rest
A head-scratcher of a start as UND went late into the third tied versus RPI with Shelby Amsley-Benzie allowing 3 goals on 14 shots. A quick goal to seal the victory and a 4-1 win Saturday kept all right with the world.
I expect the Bobcats to handle the team that polled second in the CHA fairly easily and that did not happen this weekend. The Bobcats played stifling defense, as they always do, but that won’t be enough against better teams. One cause for hope is that this was rookie coach Cassandra Turner’s first series. There’s room to grow.
The Mavericks, who went 3-32-1 last season are currently 2-1-1 and while Union and RIT aren’t the strongest competition, it’s clear that Minnesota State is icing a vastly improved team.
Northeastern sat idle this weekend, but I give them a lot of credit for going into Appleton Arena a week ago and getting a win and a tie out of SLU.