Growing the Game

Growing the Game Through Improved Scheduling

by Colleen Degnan

February 28, 2017

Every tournament and league official who is responsible for scheduling has felt the pain developing a balanced schedule among a group of relatively equal teams.  How do you know how good the teams are?  How do you use that information to develop divisions of the league or tournament?  Do you seed or use a random draw?  And while these individuals do their best, teams (players, coaches, parents) anxiously await to see where they stand compared to their opponents.  MYHockey Rankings' algorithm was conceived to help take the randomness and inaccuracy out of finding competitive opponents.  Team records are not a good indicator if you don't know exactly who a team has played and how good those teams were.  Only a couple years into the experiment that was MYHockey, people saw the accuracy and wanted to use the algorithm to improve how leagues formed divisions and developed schedules in order to, ultimately, enhance the sport of hockey.

Tim O'Shaugnessy, Cleveland Suburban Hockey League (CSHL) Commissioner and Vice President of the Ohio region for Mid American District Hockey, had dealt with the stress of creating proper league divisions based on a random, subjective preseason and its results.

He recognized that having an objective way to measure teams based upon preseason results would be a vast improvement over the old system where they used to just throw the coaches into a room to "figure it out".  "They had to schedule 5 games and we didn't use data for anything. We didn't tell them who to play or how to segregate out the stronger or weaker teams," O'Shaughnessy said.

The CSHL needed to figure out an alternative to this "universal disaster" that had exploded in their league. They tested out a ranking system, thought it was relatively successful and in their second year relying on numbers to justify their scheduling began collaborating with Director of MYHockey Rankings Neil Lodin and his algorithm to further strengthen the system.

"We're now in our 11th season using the MYHockey Rankings algorithm" O'Shaugnessy added. "And the addition has been a fantastic improvement."

Similarly to the CSHL, MidAm Hockey was seeing similar unbalanced match ups in it's district tournaments.

"USA Hockey doesn't have a mercy rule or running time rule," O'Shaugnessy said. "So we were seeing games 21-0, just ridiculous games. We knew we had to figure something out."

MidAm knew it needed to limit the tournaments to the top 8 teams in a fair manner. A few others and O'Shaugnessy suggested utilizing MYHockey Rankings' algorithm.

"We told those unfamiliar with it that they would be astonished by the scope and scale of this system," O'Shaugnessy said. "The amount of teams listed and how many games put in is impressive. It is by far the most objective solution you will find in ranking these teams."

Now MidAm is in its third year using MYHockey Rankings and are huge advocates for it and will continue using it. O'Shaugnessy believes the algorithm has helped evolve youth hockey.

While O'Shaughnessy may be one of MYHockey's bigger fans, he's not alone.  The Tier 1 Elite Hockey League (TIEHL) has been utilizing MYHockey Rankings for 3 season to seed teams (because of unbalanced schedules) into their end-of-season tournament.  Getting seeded into the top 16 tournament is huge.  Scouts fill the stands for these games.  Making sure the best 16 teams qualify is important.

The 2016-17 season will be the ACHA's first official use of MYHockey Rankings data to provide at-large invites to Regionals and byes directly into it's National Tournament.

The list of organizations using MYHockey services to improve the sport continues to grow.  While some chose to use the publicly available data, there are some risks (best left unexplained) that come with this approach.  MYHockey encourages any organization who is interested in using MYHockey Rankings data to improve the quality of their regular season divisions or their end-of-season tournament qualification/brackets/seeding to reach out to use and have a full discussion on how to best accomplish your goals.  Beyond the ranking data, there are data integration options that can be explored.  All in the effort to improve the user experience.  Please don't hesitate to contact us.

 




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