First ten rounds of season 28 have been played and on top of Iron League standings we can see Wernecke Titans above other teams with 26 points (2nd team got 21) and one has to wonder how they managed to do it. Maybe it's possible to find out by taking a closer look at their players and statistics (who wouldn't love some numbers,right?) so let's give this a try, shall we?
First thing you might spot is their goalie Maxim Skorokhodov who (even though he's becoming exhausted lately) hasn't missed a single minute on the ice yet. No other starting goalie can rival his 91,7% save efficiency - that means on average he catches 26.5 shots out of 28.9 in one game. But based on rating this isn't really a thing that should surprise us (77 OVR with the "main" ratings - 82 REF, 75 POS, 86 ATH)... Only in 10th round Wildwood Bears managed to beat Titans 6-5 SO so is there anything else except an outstanding goalie?
Defense doesn't stop opponents from shooting entirely although we can see that the goalie faces less shots than is league average - 30.72 (and only Coos Bay Lumberjacks allow less shots on their goal - 27 per game). Remarkable is the fact that 5 out of six defenders rather Stay at Home to ensure noone gets an easy rush attack. Ratingwise their Defence is on average 77.6 and has Physical 75.6 - this definitely has a role in their performance and seems to make up for a lower average Skating rating 66.6 as only Ekberg and Klimovich have this rating above 70.
In their #1 defense pair is the only Two Way guy - Louie Weigand (4 goals, 7 assists) who with his partner Hadi Ekberg supports the offense a bit. Worth mentioning is also the fact that Weigand together with Elliot Huotte are the only defenders to play powerplay on a regular basis. With penalty killing help Ekberg and Klimovich as well but still Weigand and Huotte spend on ice on average 24:30 and 22:00 minutes respectively. While third pair of defenders plays just 13 minutes or less. Definitely will be interesting to watch whether these players can maintain playing on this level through whole season if they don't get much rest. For now there's no sign of anyone being tired based on their fitness.
And now is obvously the time to talk about Titans' offense. First of all: Faceoffs. The four centers who take part in FO the most all tend to win slightly less than half (+- 45%) of them so this probably isn't really that important stat to follow. They also have 12 more takeaways than giveaways but more interesting should be shots. The whole team has 34.9 shots on average (as already mentioned they opponents only 28.9 - so 6 extra shots per game for Titans) which are supported by 13.75% (more than 1 in 8) of shots on goal being goals while only 8.3% (approximately 1 in 12) of opponents' resulting in them scoring. So one must be lucky or have high possesion of puck (to be able to shoot more) to stand a chance against Titans. This can be also partly explained by Titans having more powerplays than penalty killings and despite scoring in only 16.7% of PP (14th/15th in league so one of the worst) opponents probably don't attack much while defending themselves and therefore shoot less.
- Maxim Shorokhodov is one of the best goalies in IHL if not the best.
- Defenders tend to Stay at Home and take advantage of their Defence and Physical ratings.
- Titans shoot more than their opponents and score with higher efficiency.
- Overall half of the usual line up is 30 years or older so veteran bonus might help a bit as well.
- About a third of lineup plays Tough or Agitate but it doesn't seem to cause too many penalties.
- Interesting is also that most of the players have rather high (70+) Spirit which may help explain why they tend to perform regularly on high level.
This was just a brief look at the Wernecke Titans but maybe other managers from IHL (and other leagues as well) can somehow figure out how to use this to improve their teams and tactics to perform even better.
Note: For purpose of stats I ignored the fact there were overtimes and shoot outs as I believe it affects the numbers minimally after just 10 games (e.g. goalie played 610 minutes so his stats would be slightly different if we got rid of shots he faced in OTs).
This was my first bigger post so I hope the effort was worth it. Anyway feel free to to hit me up with some suggestions or grammar corrections. I appreciate any feedback and perhaps this was an interesting read for those who made it to the end.