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Brad Elliott Schlossman | The Grand Forks Herald | October 23, 2018

College hockey: Stats show that UND is poised to succeed

The most important numbers are the wins and losses.

At 1-2-1, UND is not where it hoped to be two weeks into the season.

But a deeper dive into advanced statistics reveals positive signs about the overall play of the No. 17 Fighting Hawks, who head to Las Vegas to take on No. 5 Minnesota in the Hall of Fame Game on Saturday night.

During the past few years, the hockey analytics community has used different advanced statistics to try to predict a team's future.

The most popular is Corsi percentage.

Corsi measures shot attempts for vs. shot attempts against. It has proven to be a better indicator of future success than goal differential.

The thought behind it is that it shows which teams have the puck in the offensive zone the most, and those teams are most likely to have future success.

If a team has an even goal differential but a very good Corsi, the assumption is that the team is likely to have more success in the future than they've had in the past. If a team has an even goal differential but a poor Corsi, that team may be due to slip in the future.

In other words, a team may have good or bad luck for a few games, but Corsi designed to predict which teams will rise and fall over the long haul.

Through four games--still a fairly small sample size--UND has one of the best Corsi percentages in the country. The Fighting Hawks are at 59.3 percent, which ranks sixth nationally.

The only teams ahead of UND in Corsi are St. Cloud State (66.9), Denver (65.5), Minnesota Duluth (63.8), Miami (62.6) and Michigan (60.2). Those five teams are 16-5-2.

If Corsi's forecasting holds true, it would mean good news for UND's future results.

The Fighting Hawks have traditionally been a strong possession team, but if they were able to sustain a Corsi of 59.3, it would be higher than the past three UND teams according to archives kept by College Hockey News.

Possession starts with faceoff wins and senior Rhett Gardner's numbers through four games are among the best in the country. He's winning 70.7 percent of his draws thus far, which would shatter the single-season school record of Tyson Jost (60.3 percent).

Rookie Jasper Weatherby is at 60.5 percent and Nick Jones is at 53.2 percent.

Two other metrics that indicate a positive correction could be coming down the road for UND is save percentage and shooting percentage.

UND's team save percentage is currently at .833--a number that figures to rise throughout the season. And UND's team shooting percentage is currently 36th in the nation at 8.6. That number isn't terribly low, but it is below UND's average by about one percent.

In other news for the future of UND hockey, four recruits have been named on the draft list.

TSN draft expert and former NHL general manager Craig Button released his top 62 players for the 2019 NHL Draft, which will be held in Vancouver in June.

Four UND commits are on the list, which represents the top two rounds.

Forward commit Shane Pinto of the Lincoln Stars in the United States Hockey League, forward Ryder Donovan of Duluth East, forward Judd Caulfield of Grand Forks and the U.S. Under-18 Team and forward Harrison Blaisdell of the Chilliwack Chiefs in the British Columbia Hockey League are on the list.

Pinto is ranked No. 40, Donovan is No. 47, Caulfield is No. 53 and Blaisdell is No. 54.

UND forward commit Massimo Rizzo of the Penticton Vees in the BCHL and goalie commit Cam Rowe of the U.S. Under-18 Team, listed as potential second- or third-round picks by the NHL's Central Scouting Bureau, were not on the list. Rizzo hasn't played yet this season but is nearing a return.

Draft-eligible defenseman Ethan Frisch, who scouts are predicting will rise in the rankings throughout the season, wasn't on the list either.

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This article is written by Brad Elliott Schlossman from Grand Forks Herald and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.