Storm Look For Edge With More Data

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Storm Look for Edge With More Data January 15, 2013 7:33 AM

Tri-City Storm using new statistical analysis service

by Jared Shafran, Tri-City Storm

The Tri-City Storm have been using a new, cutting edge statistical analysis service to help dissect team performance and prepare for upcoming games.

The team has hired Christopher Boucher, based in Montreal, Quebec to provide player tracking data at the conclusion of each game. Boucher has created his own system, which he uses to track each play and grade players’ performances. He then inputs the results into a database, which allows tracking of each player’s successes and failures.

Each player receives an ultra-specific breakdown of every play they made after each game. The Storm believe it will allow them to improve on their shortcomings and prepare for future opponents.

“I think it helps us identify individual areas where we can improve,” Tri-City assistant coach Eric Fink said. “We can look at whether they have to have a better stick defensively, whether they’re out of position or whether they just can’t make a pass. As a team it helps us look at our performance against specific teams. For instance, if we’re not getting pucks deep or we didn’t chip pucks out well.”

Boucher describes his service as “tracking puck possession events.” He will watch and record everything from completed passes, ability to get the puck away from another player, puck battles, puck recoveries, dekes, attempted shots, the result of each shot, and scoring chances.

“It’s just knowing your players,” Boucher said. “Knowing how well that defenseman is able to get the puck out of the defensive zone and at what rate is he successful. It’s as simple as a baseball player’s batting average or fielding percentage. You want to know that before you have that player on your team. The way I look at it, we have the results of the events, but we don’t know how they occurred or what brought them on.”

Boucher grew up around Montreal and was a goaltender in junior hockey, but never made it professionally.

“Statistics and the game kind of came together,” Boucher said. “I was on the ice trying to track my save percentage while I was in the middle of the game. After my playing days were over I started running goalie clinics and coaching in the area and from there I started to go into this.”

While not his day job, Boucher says it has changed the way he sees the game. “I don’t know if I could actually sit down and watch a hockey game now without doing this at least in my mind a little bit. It’s just part of who I am now.”

He said it takes him about three and a half hours to break down an entire game from start to finish. Boucher then generates all of the data for each Storm player.

“I’m pausing the game about every three seconds. I input data into my iPad, and I move on to the next play,” Boucher said. “I don’t really take breaks per se, I just sit down and I do it. I can even do it with my kids in the room at this point; I just zone in and focus on what I have to do.”

Fink, who originally came across Boucher’s website while innocently browsing the internet, said he appreciates how quickly Boucher is able to analyze a game and get results sent out.

“The turnaround is super quick,” Fink said. “Sometimes we’re still on the bus traveling back home. If we have games on consecutive days he gets it back really quick so we can use it to help us in deciding who is going to be in or out of the lineup.

“He does a good job too of pointing out things he notices during the game. If the stats show something, then he can say ‘In the first period you guys did this really well, but after that it really dropped off.’”

Boucher said he enjoys getting the information to the coaches, and is rooting for the Storm each and every game.

“Whatever the Storm need, I’m here to give it to them,” Boucher said. “The Storm being successful is the best advertising I can possibly get.”

Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the USHL celebrates its 11th season as the nation’s only Tier I junior hockey league in 2012-13. With 20 NHL Draft picks on team rosters and over 230 players already committed to NCAA Division I schools this season, the USHL has emerged as the world’s foremost producer of junior hockey talent. For more information, visit us on the web at www.USHL.com or visit the League’s social media platforms, including Facebook (www.facebook.com/ushlhockey), twitter (www.twitter.com/ushl), and YouTube (www.youtube.com/ushlinteractive). Fans can also watch USHL action all season long, live or on-demand via FASTHockey (ushl.fasthockey.com).

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