Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Haggerty Effect

Ryan Haggerty is currently scoring at a clip of 1.15 goals per game. That's tops in the nation, and that's good for RPI. Why?

RPI when Ryan Haggerty scores a goal: 7-0-2
RPI when Ryan Haggerty doesn't score: 0-5-0

Kinda stark, isn't it? The latter figure includes the first game at Mercyhurst, where Haggerty was a healthy scratch due to a death in the family and a cancelled flight to Erie.

Now, that's not to say that the team relies wholly on Haggerty for its offense. It's worth pointing out that Brock Higgs has been humming right along on the goal scoring as well, currently tied for 16th in the country at 0.64 goals per game. With 9 goals on the year, he's already tied his career high (attained during his freshman season), and is only slightly below the pace Chase Polacek set in 2009-10, a 26-goal season that is the most for an Engineer in the current millennium.

That's important - after all, hockey's a team sport and Ryan Haggerty is but one man. The Engineers have only five skaters on their roster who haven't scored a goal in the first 14 games of the year. They're getting goals from all over. But the numbers when the goal leader doesn't get involved are very black and white.

It won't last in such an extreme, of course. Eventually this year, the Engineers will lose a game in which Haggerty scores. They'll eventually pull out a result without him.

Let's be plain. Haggerty's rate is going to be hard to maintain for the remainder of the season. A quick whirl on College Hockey Stats tells us that no player who appeared in at least 75% of his team's contests has managed to finish the season scoring a full goal per game or more in the last 10 years - the closest was Minnesota's Ryan Potulny in 2005-06, when he registered 38 goals in 41 games, a 0.93 goals per game average.

But if, somehow, he can maintain the current rate of 1.15 per game (down from earlier in the year already), and appear in every game from here on out, he'd finish the regular season and the first two games of the playoffs (the only ones guaranteed to any ECAC team) with a total of either 40 or 41 goals, depending on what you want to do with the remainder, and there'd still be as many as seven potential games left in the chamber after that.

That would put Haggerty in some pretty rare air as far as the school record for goals in a season is concerned.

1. Frank Chiarelli - 55 (1951-52)
2. John Carter - 43 (1984-85)
3. Bob Brinkworth - 41 (1961-62)
4. Paul Midghall - 40 (1957-58)
5. Ray Belasky - 37 (1958-59)

Now, it's worth mentioning that the game is very different than it was in the 1950s and 1960s, when four of those marks were set. Those guys played in a lot fewer games and were part of much higher scoring contests back then. Chiarelli's record, of course, is part of a national mark which will never be broken in terms of goals per game, averaging a hat trick per game (and he had 9 that year) at 3.06.

Even if he drops back to Polacek's 2010 pace for the rest of the year, we're still talking 30 goals on the campaign for the first time since Brad Tapper in 1999-2000. In the last 10 seasons, here's the total number of 30 goal scorers:

2003-04: 1 (Junior Lessard, UMD - Hobey Baker winner)
2004-05: 1 (Brett Sterling, CC - Hobey Hat Trick)
2005-06: 3 (Chris Collins, BC in HHT)
2006-07: 3 (Ryan Duncan, UND was Hobey Baker winner)
2007-08: 4 (All three of the HHT, including Kevin Porter, Michigan, who won)
2008-09: 1 (Jacques Lamoureux, Air Force - Hobey finalist)
2009-10: 1 (Cam Atkinson, BC - HHT)
2010-11: 2 (both in HHT)
2011-12: 2 (Austin Smith, Colgate in HHT)
2012-13: 0 (Greg Carey, SLU came closest with 28)

18 30-goal scorers in the last decade, all but two of them were in the final 10 for the Hobey Baker Award, 11 of them made the Hobey Hat Trick, and three won the award.

It's a little early to be discussing Hobey favorites, but... it's hard to say that the goal-fest hasn't at least positioned Ryan Haggerty well early on to be part of the discussion down the road.

Just 14 games in - and it's only 13 games technically for Haggerty - we're already scoping out this list for the top 10 goal-scoring seasons for Engineers in the last 10 years.

26 - Chase Polacek (2009-10)
21 - Chase Polacek (2010-11)
16 - Kirk MacDonald (2004-05)
16 - Oren Eizenman (2005-06)
15 - Ryan Haggerty (2013-14)
15 - Paul Kerins (2009-10)
14 - Kevin Croxton (2005-06)
14 - Tyler Helfrich (2010-11)
13 - Jonathan Ornelas (2005-06)
12 - Kirk MacDonald (2006-07)

Perhaps that's even the best chart for exactly what we're looking at in Troy right now.

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