The computer says we rule

For the 50th or so year in a row, a team from the north is ranked #1 in boys' hockey. By virtue of its 7-0 record and seven-goals-a-game average, Eau Claire Memorial has been named the early-season leader by What's intere...

For the 50th or so year in a row, a team from the north is ranked #1 in boys' hockey.

By virtue of its 7-0 record and seven-goals-a-game average, Eau Claire Memorial has been named the early-season leader by What's interesting, though, is who's next in line. Stevens Point is ranked second, followed by University School, KM/Mukwonago and Superior. That's two Milwaukee metro-area schools in the top five. Just try to find two northern schools that can return the favor by cracking the top five in D-1 basketball.

But when you look at the US High School Hockey Power Rankings (record plus strength of schedule), the stars all realign properly. The Old Abes still hold the top spot, but they are then followed by Superior, Stevens Point, Hudson, and River Falls. University School? The Wildcats are only 18th on the USHSHO list.

That's much better isn't it? Especially when you note (and I'm quoting here) "...the Total column is in goal units (Memorial scored a 12.65 while Superior is 10.51) and the difference in this value between any two teams is the predicted goal differential for a game played at a neutral site between those two teams. It should be noted that due to goal differential limits set in the ranking program these predicted goal differentials are only accurate when comparing teams ranked within three goals of each other. The differential between teams ranked farther apart becomes more and more understated as the chosen teams become farther apart in the rankings."



Ah, who cares? It's like that BCS thing in college football. You don't argue with a computer, especially when it's on your side.

Now, all we need to do is to go down to Madison in March and get back the trophy that University School stole from us last year.

As for the growing sport of girls' hockey, there's little doubt (with the exception of Fond du Lac/Waupun) that the strongest of the fledgling programs are those found away from the highly urbanized southeast quarter of the state. Onalaska is ranked number one followed by Superior, the St. Croix Valley Fusion, Fondy/Waupun and Point/Rapids. Chippewa Falls and EC/Altoona are two of the three teams getting honorable mention.

What's most significant in girls' hockey, though, is the expectation that, as the mega-co-op teams establish themselves, particularly in the Milwaukee-Madison metro areas, they should eventually dissolve into individual teams supported by single schools. As that happens, schools like Onalaska and Superior, already with their own strong programs, should be able to stay at or near the top.


Speaking of Eau Claire Memorial, just how deep is the Old Abe hockey team? In an 8-4 win over cross-town rival EC North, eleven different Old Abe skaters recorded either a goal or an assist ... Spooner's Jake Olson scored three goals and added five assists in the Rails' 14-1 win over McDonell/Regis ... Switching to the hardwood, Northwood's Ashley Albano had an interesting night at Shell Lake recently. She scored the game's first 15 points en route to a 29-point effort and an Evergreen win ... Chetek's Nicole Christianson just missed a triple double in a win over St. Croix Falls. She scored 17 points, had 8 assists, and made an incredible 13 steals ... Ciara Gilbert had a 30-point effort for Solon Springs in a recent win over Mercer ... Congratulations to Superior's Lindsey Lindstrom. While scoring 22 points in a win over Proctor she passed the 1,000 career-point mark ... Washburn's Jenna Anderson scored 30 points against Hurley, but it wasn't enough as Jaclyn Aijala's 25 points led Hurley to a 70-59 win to keep the Midgettes on top of the IC standings ... How's this for making your job tougher? Butternut's boys made just 5 of 22 free-throw attempts, yet held on to beat Hurley, 41-39 ... Drummond's boys rebounded from a 70-17 loss to Washburn by burying 10 three-pointers in a 63-25 win over Bayfield ... Laona's Matt Bull poured in 41 points to lead the Fighting Kellys to a 75-71 win over Oneida Nation ... And finally, the state's longest current winning streak is over. Despite 31 points from James Haarsma, Racine St. Catherine's lost to Milwaukee Bay View on Friday, snapping the Angels' 49-game string.

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