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.
Pollsters were pretty harsh on Minnesota for losing to North Dakota. I wouldn’t have been. I still believe that the Gophers are the best team in the nation, and by a wider margin than a lot of people think. I’m also skeptical of Boston College’s depth and their ability to play against elite teams. They have Boston University next, but I feel like we’ll have to wait until they play Northeastern in a few weeks to get a real answer as to how good they really are.
I’ve added the previous weekend’s results along with each team’s movement from the previous week although it’s still early enough in the season to produce some weird results. Again, eight teams make the NCAA Tournament so let’s run down the top eight:
Wisconsin still has yet to concede a goal in WCHA and is in the midst of a school-record eight straight shutouts. They have yet to play North Dakota or Minnesota so it’s a figure with a bit of an asterisk, but so far the Badgers are the most statistically impressive team to start the season.
2. Boston College
Both the pollsters and my metric put Boston College over Minnesota. I don’t buy it, but when you base your rankings on math and the Eagles dominate shots 108-26 that sort of thing will happen. As I said before BC won’t face a nationally ranked team until they meet the #8 Huskies in three weeks. It’s conceivable they won’t play another top 5 team all season.
I still believe Minnesota is the best team in the country and I believe they’ll defeat Wisconsin when they meet on the first weekend in December. I don’t know that Minnesota has anything to draw from this weekend’s loss to North Dakota other than the fact that sometimes good teams beat really good ones.
It has to be a little troubling that the shots on goal were so even. Minnesota is a better team and they should be able to have a consistent advantage in that area. Perhaps UND’s system is a bad matchup, or perhaps it’s simply a case of UND getting up for a marquee opponent.
The Golden Knights had draws against Dartmouth and Harvard and while those aren’t bad results, a team with Clarkson’s expectations has to consider the weekend a disappointment. The Dartmouth game in particular was one the Knights should have closed out as they gave up a 3-0 lead.
Quinnipiac dominated the weekend and yet only came out with a split. They set a school record for fewest shots allowed versus Brown with a 37-3 figure. Their Yale game went similarly with a 26-9 advantage, but Yale potted four and came away with the 4-3 win.
The Bobcats have a tough stretch beginning in two weeks as they play #10 Princeton in a home-and-home and then travel to meet #4 Clarkson and St. Lawrence.
Speaking of Princeton, the Tigers are one of the four remaining undefeated teams with a 4-0-0 record. Outside of Brown, their wins are of solid quality with a sweep of Mercyhurst to begin the year and a defeat of Yale. With 99 shots for and 100 against this Princeton team seems like a slight upgrade from last year’s which had difficulty putting shots on net.
The Tigers are in sole possession of first in the ECAC two games into the season and while that’s not likely to last, they will challenge for a top four spot and home ice in the Tournament quarterfinals.
The Huskies had a relatively uneventful weekend with a 5-1 victory over Merrimack. They’ll be donating Kendall Coyne to the National Team for the Four Nations Cup while they play Maine next weekend. It’ll be interesting to see who steps up in her absence.
Billing Northeastern as ‘Kendall Coyne and Company’ is a bit unfair though. Both Hayley Scamurra and Denisa Krížová are having stellar seasons of their own. Krížová leads all scorers not named Coyne with 5 goals and 14 assists and Scamurra sits third with 6 and 6. After them are defenders Heather Mottau and Jordan Krause, who have been bright spots as well along with Shelby Herrington whose 5 goals trail only the aforementioned trio of forwards.
I’m an upstate New York native and while I do have a fondness for all the NY teams, my primary rooting interests are for me to be right and for the math to mesh with what we already know. Colgate does not seem to belong in the top eight.
Draws against RPI and Union are not good enough results for a team like Colgate that wants to take the next step. At the same time they’re till a statistically solid team. Some of that is owing to poor competition, but their relative shots percentage is middle of the pack. What that tells us is that while Colgate’s opponents are weak, they’re performing strongly (at least in terms of shots on goal) as a good team should be expected to do in those games.
The Best of the Rest
Math apparently doesn’t like it when you upset the best team in the nation as North Dakota did against Minnesota. UND found scoring at the best possible time, jumping out to 3-1 and 4-2 leads versus the Gophers before hanging on for the 4-3 victory. Maybe UND just needs a premiere opponent to play to their potential.
Wins are wins, but Bemidji State’s twin 3-1 defeats of St. Cloud State were not very impressive. They need to be better. They are better.
Lindenwood reminds me of Northeastern last year in that their success depends on the success of their best player, Shara Jasper. Jasper put up a hattrick and an assist in the opening game against Penn State, a 5-2 blowout. She was held pointless in the 1-1 draw the following day.
Harvard staved off a disastrous start to the season with an undefeated weekend, drawing Clarkson and defeating St. Lawrence. They’re missing so many key pieces to injury and to the Four Nations Cup that it’s difficult to get an accurate reading on them right now.