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Pulling the Goalie: When's the Best Time?

Recently, we came across a curious monograph that tackles that eternal question: When is the best time to pull the goalie? It's called "Pulling the Goalie: Hockey and Investment Implications" and the hockey argument, buttressed by applied mathematics, is that most coaches wait too long, thus reducing their team's chances of tying the game and getting to overtime.

The study we're linking to below, by Clifford Asness and Aaron Brown, is heavy on applied mathematics, so there were parts this reporter skimmed over. So we can't comment on the methodology. But the conclusions, based on running various scoring models, supports a more aggressive approach.

To give the most dramatic example, the study argues that, all things being equal, the best time to pull the goalie when down by one goal comes with 6:10 left in the game.

If your team is down by two goals and there are 13:00 minutes remaining in the game, the study suggests pulling your goalie then. If you score before the clock reaches 6:10 left, put your goalie back in. If your team scores before the 6:10 remaining mark, pull him again until -- and if -- your team scores the tying goal.

If your team is down by three goals, the math suggests pulling your netminder with 3:40 to go in the second period.

Down by four, pull your goalie 4:10 into the second.

Down by five or more goals? Pray. The hockey gods may answer.

All of the above is subject to numerous game variables, which the authors do touch on. The study assumes the teams playing each other are evenly matched. And it ignores power plays, which zone the faceoff is in, and the fact that there is less scoring in the first period of a hockey game than the two periods that follow. There are additional variables, of course.

The study also gets into the likelihood of some of the more extreme strategies being employed in game situations.

"Two reasons have been advanced for this failure to act," the authors write. "First, coaches are not actually rewarded for winning. They are rewarded for being perceived as good coaches. Obviously, the two are closely related, but not exactly the same thing."

If, say, a coach employs one of the suggested strategies and, trailing 2-0, pulls his goalie with 13:00 left on the clock and it totally backfires, with the opposition just pouring in goals, the coach's trip back to the dressing room would be more like a perp walk, and the reporters would be questioning the wisdom of such a move.

"Essentially, winning ugly is undervalued versus losing elegantly,"the authors write, "and losing ugly can be career suicide. Once again, the way you measure risk matters in making the optimal decision."

"These numbers may sound silly, but they make the case and matter."

Draw your own conclusions, but the advantages gained are small, and most useful over an 82-game NHL schedule; less useful in shorter prep and college seasons.

Or, to use a phrase popularized by Mark Twain (but attributed to British prime minister Benjamin Disraeli), "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."

Pulling the Goalie: Hockey and Investment Implications, by Clifford Asness and Aaron Brown

46 Former Prep Players in NHL this Season -- So Far

Last season we made two lists of former prep players who had appeared in one or more NHL games in the 2017-18 season. We did the first one around Christmas, and the final one in June. There were 57 former prep players on that final list.

There were 48 former prep players on the first list, which was restricted to NEPSIHA schools and NEPSIHA affiliates. But, over the remainder of the season, it grew to the above-mentioned 57 as nine additional players joined the ranks.

Readers appeared to like the list, so we're doing it again. We've counted 46 players.

Some notes:

If a player's school and date are in parentheses, that indicates the player left prep school at that time, generally for the NTDP, USHL, Major Junior, etc.

Only one former prep player, D Gavin Bayreuther, has made his NHL debut thus far this season. The New Hampshire native went undrafted. Now, he joins his cousin, D Ben Lovejoy (NJ Devils) in the show. Lovejoy was also undrafted.

Thirteen of the former prep players were first round NHL draft picks. Thirteen went undrafted and made it anyway. Keep that in your heart.

Also, 13 former prep players who were in the NHL for at least one game in 2017-18, but have not been in the league this season are listed at the end, along with their current team, which in all but one case are AHL affiliates.

Here's the list:

Anaheim
Brian Gibbons, F, Thayer '06/Salisbury '07 -- Undrafted

Arizona -- None

Boston
Kevan Miller, D, Berkshire '07 -- Undrafted
Noel Acciari, F, Kent '11 -- Undrafted
Matt Grzelcyk, D, (Belmont Hill '10) -- Round 3
Ryan Donato, F, Dexter ’15 – Round 2

Buffalo
Zach Bogosian, D, (Cushing '06) -- Round 1
Conor Sheary, F, Cushing '10 – Undrafted

Calgary
Mark Jankowski, F, Stanstead '12 -- Round 1
Garnet Hathaway, F, Andover '10 -- Undrafted
Noah Hanifin, D, (St. Sebastian's '13) -- Round 1 (from Carolina)

Carolina
Warren Foegele, F, St. Andrew’s College ’14 – Round 3

Chicago
John Hayden, F, (Brunswick '11) -- Round 3
Dylan Sikura, F, (St. Andrew’s College ’14) – Round 6

Matt Nieto, F, (Salisbury '08) -- Round 2
AJ Greer, F, Kimball Union '14 -- Round 2

Columbus
Cam Atkinson, F, Avon '08 -- Round 6

Dallas
*Gavin Bayreuther, D, Holderness '12 --Undrafted

Detroit
Luke Glendening, F, Hotchkiss '08 – Undrafted
Wade Megan, F, South Kent '09 -- Round 5

Edmonton -- none

Florida
Keith Yandle, D, Cushing '05 -- Round 4

Los Angeles
Jonathan Quick, G, Avon '05 -- Round 3

Minnesota
Charlie Coyle, F, (Thayer '09) -- Round 1
Ryan Suter, D, (Culver Academy '01) -- Round 1

Montreal -- none

Nashville
Nick Bonino, F, Avon '07 -- Round 6

New Jersey
Brian Boyle, F, St. Sebastian's '03 -- Round 1
Miles Wood, F, Nobles '15 -- Round 4
Ben Lovejoy, D, Deerfield '02 -- Undrafted
Cory Schneider, G, Andover '04 -- Round 1
Kevin Rooney, F, Berkshire ’12 -- Undrafted

New York Islanders – None

New York Rangers
Chris Kreider, F, Andover '09 -- Round 1
Kevin Shattenkirk, D, (Brunswick '05) -- Round 1
Kevin Hayes, F, Nobles '10 -- Round 1
Jimmy Vesey, F, (Belmont Hill '11) -- Round 3
Boo Nieves, F, Kent '12 -- Round 2

Ottawa
Mike Condon, G, Belmont Hill '09 – Undrafted
Colin White, F, (Nobles ’13) – Round 1
Paul Carey, F, Salisbury '07 -- Round 5

Shayne Gostisbehere, D, South Kent '11 -- Round 3

Pittsburgh
Casey DeSmith, G, (Deerfield ’09) -- Undrafted

St. Louis -- none

San Jose -- None

Tampa Bay
Alex Killorn, Deerfield '08  -- Round 3

Toronto -- none

Vancouver
Alex Biega, D, Salisbury '06 -- Round 5
Richard Bachman, G, Cushing '06 -- Round 4
Adam Gaudette, F, (Thayer ’14) – Round 5

Vegas
Max Pacioretty, F, (Taft '06) -- Round 1

Washington
Brooks Orpik, D, Thayer '98 -- Round 1
Nic Dowd, F, Culver Academy '08 -- Round 7

Winnipeg -- None

Note: South Kent School (Gostisbehere, Megan) was a former NEPSIHA school.

These 13 players appeared in one or more NHL games last season, but none this season. Their last NHL team and current squad are listed.

Kevin Roy, F, (Deerfield '11) -- Round 4 -- Anaheim/ San Diego Gulls (AHL)
Jaycob Megna, D, (Tabor '09) -- Round 7 -- Anaheim/ San Diego Gulls (AHL)
Kyle Criscuolo, F, Choate '11 – Undrafted -- Buffalo/ Rochester Americans (AHL)
Danny O’Regan, F, St. Sebastian’s ’12 – Round 5 -- Buffalo/ Rochester Americans (AHL)
Jon Gillies, G, (Salisbury '10) -- Round 3 -- Calgary/ Stockton Heat (AHL)
David Warsofsky, D, (Cushing ’07) – Round 4 -- Colorado/ Colorado Eagles (AHL)
Brad Malone, F, (Cushing '06) -- Round 4 -- Edmonton/ Bakersfield Condors (AHL)
Connor Brickley, F, (Belmont Hill ’09) – Round 2 -- Florida/ Hartford Wolf Pack (AHL)
Torrey Mitchell, F, Hotchkiss '04 -- Round 4 -- Los Angeles/ Lausanne HC (Swiss League)
Jimmy Hayes, F, (Nobles '06) -- Round 2 -- New Jersey/ Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins (AHL)
Rob O’Gara, D, Milton ’12 – Round 5 -- NY Rangers/ Hartford Wolf Pack (AHL)
Will O'Neill, D, (Tabor '06) -- Round 7 -- Philadelphia/ Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins (AHL)
Jayson Megna, F, Tabor '09 – Undrafted -- Vancouver/ Hershey Bears (AHL)

NHL Central Scouting Midterm Rankings

To no one's surprise, NHL Central Scouting has NTDP U-18 center Jack Hughes as the top-ranked North American skater in this year's Midterm Rankings, released today. Hughes, along with #5Alex Turcotte, #6 Matt Boldy, and #7 Trevor Zegras gives the U.S. four of the top seven North American skaters, all from the NTDP. For the U.S., there's a dropoff after that, but...

The #1-ranked North American -- and American -- goaltender is the NTDP's 6'3" Spencer Knight, who was with Avon Old Farms last season, and the Mid-Fairfield Rangers program before that.

The top European skater is Kaapo Kakko, a gold medal-winning forward with the  2019 Finnish WJC squad. Kakko, who had a 2-3-5 line in 7 games in Vancouver and Victoria, was a handful for the US, to say nothing of other countries.

This year's NHL Entry Draft will be held in Vancouver, BC, June 21-22, 2019.

Here are the current and former prep players on Central's list:

North American Skaters:

6. Matt Boldy, LW, NTDP (ex-Dexter)
7. Trevor Zegras, LC, NTDP (ex-Avon)
32. Henry Thrun, LD, NTDP (ex-St. Mark's)
37. John Farinacci, RC, Dexter
43. Jayden Struble, LD, St. Sebastian's
53. Johnny Beecher, NTDP (ex-Salisbury)
86. Cooper Moore, LD, Brunswick
88. Ryan Siedem, RD, Central Illinois (ex-Avon)
102. Patrick Moynihan, RW, NTDP (ex-Nobles)
119. Lynden Breen, LC, Central Illinois (ex-New Hampton)
123. Tyce Thompson, RW, Providence College (ex-Salisbury)
127. Tomas Mazura, LC, Kimball Union
130. Arlo Merritt, LC, Kimball Union
171. Malik Alishlavov, LD, Westminster
174. Nikita Nesterenko, LC, Lawrenceville
179. Matthew Stienburg, RC, St. Andrew's College
189. Tyler Young, RW, Lawrence Academy
190. Kevin Wall, RW, Chilliwack (ex-Salisbury)
202. Luke Krys, RD, Salisbury
Limited Viewing: Cade Alami, RD, Berkshire

North American Goaltenders:

1. Spencer Knight, NTDP (ex-Avon)
14. Henry Wilder, Hotchkiss
20. Alexandros Aslanidis, Avon
28. Derek Mullahy, Dexter

USPHL All-Star Games Rosters & Schedule

On Monday, January 21st (Martin Luther King, Jr. Day) the USPHL will be holding its All-Star-Games at Merrimack College.

Here are the times for the three games -- NCDC, U18, and U16.

USPHL NCDC All-Star Game, 1:30 p.m., Lawler Arena (Merrimack College)

USPHL 18U All-Star Game, 2:30 p.m., Gallant Arena (Merrimack College)

USPHL 16U All-Star Game, 4:00 p.m., Lawler Arena (Merrimack College)

Here's the link to the rosters as they currently stand. They are subject to change before gameday.

NCDC, USPHL Showcase This Weekend

The National Development Conference (NCDC), all three divisions of the USPHL Premier League, as well as the USPHL Elite teams will be in action at the league's winter showcase at the New England Sports Center this weekend, Fri.-Mon. Jan. 4-7.

There will be no U18s, U16s, and so on. Just juniors.

Here's the schedule:

2019 NCDC-USPHL Winter Showcase