One of the best things about the hockey season starting is overreacting to early-season stats and trends. Your favorite player might have six goals in the first six games, and inevitably someone always points out, “Well if such and such can keep that up, he’s going to score 50+ goals this year!” Or maybe it’s a team that is extremely hot or cold out of the gate, that small sample size is surely enough to prove that these teams are either the greatest or worst of all-time.
So with some teams already having played a whopping six games, it’s a perfect time to get to overreacting with some of this season’s early trends in the SPHL.
The SPHL may as well book the President’s Cup hotels in Fayetteville and Peoria
A quick look at the SPHL standings shows two teams who have already set themselves apart from the rest of the field, the 5-0-1 Fayetteville Marksmen, who probably won’t lose a game during regulation time this season, and the 5-0-0 Peoria Rivermen, who have the best goals differential in the league, and are a shoo-in to finish with the most points and the first undefeated season in SPHL history, narrowly nudging out the previously mentioned Marksmen.
Sure, teams like Birmingham and Huntsville are off to nice starts, but when you have two legendary teams ahead of them, you’re basically playing for third, and hoping that you avoid either team in the first round so you have a chance at winning a series before you inevitably get crushed by the Marksmen or Rivermen.
Marksmen vs. Rivermen for the Cup, book it. We’ll finally find out the answer to the age old question of who the greatest hockey Men of all are.
For the record, Peoria already has the SPHL record for most points in a season, set back in 2015-16 when they put up an amazing 89 out of a possible 112 points.
Pensacola will be the lowest scoring team in SPHL history
With only six goals in their first four games, that’s an easy average of 1.5 goals a game. Over the course of a 56-game season that equates to 84 goals total. The lowest scoring team in the SPHL last season netted 124, tying the all-time mark for fewest goals in a season, so as you can see, it’s truly terrible times for the Ice Flyers, at least on offense.
Amazingly, they’re 2-2 after those four games because of some pretty decent goaltending that has seen them give up two or fewer goals in three of those four games. They better hope that keeps up, because with this offense, every save is going to be extra critical in Pensacola.
Danny Tirone is probably going to have the greatest goaltending season in SPHL history
So far Tirone has played every minute of every game for Fayetteville, and I see no reason that doesn’t continue as long as the ECHL doesn’t try and steal him away.
He’s currently on pace for around 50 wins this season, earning each and every one of the Marksmen’s five victories so far, and should shatter the old mark of 32 in a season, and is also on pace to make the most saves in SPHL history, all while posting a GAA of less than 1.70 and a Sv% of around .940, which would set the mark for lowest GAA in season, and come very close to the mark for Sv% in a single season.
Every team wants a workhorse goaltender who they can count on night-in, night-out, and Fayetteville certainly has one. It will be refreshing to see a modern goalie pull a Glenn Hall and start every game of the season, rather than splitting reps and maybe starting 60 percent of the games.
The Brodeur-Levine combo in Peoria may have better GAA and Sv% numbers than Tirone so far, but when you’re splitting time, it allows you to rest up for your game, making it less impressive.
Roanoke might be the worst team in SPHL history
We went through this last season with Evansville, who thankfully got “hot” in the second half of the season to avoid infamy, but this time, it’s happening for sure with Roanoke.
Through six games the Rail Yard Dawgs sit at just three points, thanks to giving up the most goals in the league so far. That pace of .5 points per game has them on-pace for just 28 points over the course of a 56-game schedule. The SPHL record for fewest points in a season is 28, but that came way back in the league’s first season by the Winston-Salem Polar Twins, when the league did not give out a point for losing in overtime. Had that rule been in place, the Polar Twins would have finished with 33 points on the season, which is still awful, but wouldn’t crack the Top-5 for fewest points in a season.
Anyways, it’s a real bummer that the hockey team is so bad in Roanoke, especially with their attendance and interest in the sport on the rise. You really hope a team this bad doesn’t drive away the fans for good.
So those are our Way Too Early SPHL Overreactions, what has stood out to you so far that will definitely 100% happen based on an extremely small sample size of games?