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With official practice at NESCAC schools scheduled to begin in a week and actual games in less than 4 weeks, it’s the fun, hopeful part of the season when we are all still staring at blank canvasses. We get to guess which teams will succeed and which will flop and of course to hallucinate away about our favorite team’s chances and to ignore their very real flaws. I’ve come up with my own statistically based (and completely valid!) approach to the upcoming season that removes the mystery and ends the debate before the season begins. Just kidding, of course, but the math shows that the evil empire will return to power despite its slight slide from the top since the 2006 season.

My method involved calculating the average number of returning goals per game and the average number of goals allowed per game for returning goalies for each team. Only data for NESCAC conference games was used in order to control for the variables associated with out-of-conference play. I added a factor based on the quality of the incoming class for each school. Rating the incoming classes was the only part of the process the involved subjective judgment as it is difficult to compare data across junior hockey and prep school leagues for incoming players or to have much of a sense of how the D1 transfers will do and fit in. Fortunately, that element of the data did not affect the final rankings as the teams with the stronger returning players also have the best recruits.

Here are these highly scientific findings (the numbers in parentheses are the raw scores for each school and roughly translate into anticipated goal differential per game):

1. Middlebury (1.77)
2. Amherst (1.24)
3. Bowdoin (0.52)
4. Connecticut College (0.17)
5. Trinity (0.10)
6. Williams (-0.08)
7. Hamilton (-0.41)
8. Colby (-1.08)
9. Wesleyan (-1.34)
10. Tufts (-1.87)


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