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A Second Attempt at Wonkery

The audience here at Western College Hockey is now a little over 5 times bigger than it was at this time last year. If you were one of the select few that was here a year ago, you may remember that I tried to answer the question of which is the most important goal in a hockey game? Is it the much-talked about first goal, or is scoring the second goal of the game more important? Last year I came to a conclusion that scoring the first goal of the game was of superior importance, since the team that scored first in WCHA league play got at least a tie 77% of the time.

For the many of you who weren't reading here a year ago, I've decided to try it again and see what results I get. Once again, I'm only going to stick with the WCHA, since it's the smaller conference, and I'm only sticking to league games since it's a more manageable sample, and the schedule is more insular.

There were a lot more games that started with a 2-0 score last season, but the winning percentage stayed the same. Teams that scored the first two goals of the game last year in the WCHA had a combined record of 67-4-5, which is a winning percentage of 91.5%, exactly what it was last year. Last year, I noted that the majority of those losses happened early in the season, but this time around, the first team to lose with a 2-0 didn't happen until November 12th.

The numbers for games that were tied 1-1 after the first two goals were even more inconclusive than last year. The team that scored the first goal of the game, but gave up the second went 31-22-9 last season for a winning percentage of 57.25%. They still have an advantage, but it's so slight that it's almost insignificant.

The results ended up being pretty close to what last year was. There seems to be a slight advantage to scoring the first goal of a close game, but not much of one. Building a two goal lead, however, means that your team is virtually guaranteed to win the game.