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Ice Chips: KRACH is coming!

By Bill Halbrehder, 11/18/11, 7:30PM CST


  Here we go, the season is under way.    Good friend and former coach Brian Goski has always enjoyed statistical ranking of our girl's hockey teams.  He uses a statistical ranking called KRACH.  Over a number of years, I have been in charge of Section 4AA Girls Hockey for the MSHSL, and I have compared the accuracy of his ranking for the sections with the way they actually turned out, both as the coaches ranked them for seeding, and (including some upsets) how they actually turned out at the end of the sectional tournament.  It is amazing that the KRACH statistical ranking has been almost spot on, in the way our section has turned out, and the way the coaches have ranked the teams.  The MSHSL has been looking in the direction of some form of statistical ranking for state playdowns in many sports, and although hockey for the most part, still has the coaches rank their section teams, I thought it would be fun and interesting to see how KRACH might do, with the way teams end up for the 2011-12 season. 

   What caught my eye about KRACH when I first noticed it a few years back, was that it took into account strength of schedule as it ranked the teams.   You will sometimes see teams with a lessor record ranked higher than others because they had a much stronger and more difficult schedule than teams with better records.   As I looked into it in more detail, I found that the KRACH formula actually helps sort out just what the strength of schedule is for a particular team, as well as taking that into account for its ranking.

   I am not a numbers guy, so I won't even try to explain how it works, but here are a few more things I found out about KRACH.  First of all it's a funny sounding name, but it actually stands for Ken's Rating for American College Hockey...hence KRACH.  Ken is Ken Butler, a statistician, and the mathematical model he used is known as the  Bradley-Terry Rating System.  That's as far as I can go with a limited mathematical mind.

   Another thing that strength of schedule helps determine is that the rankings cannot be distorted by teams with strong records against weak opponents.  Finally, the KRACH ranking says that it cannot predict the future, and that champions are determined on the ice.   From my perspective that really fits the unpredictability of the game of hockey, and it should be fun to see how it all turns out.  So enjoy Brian Goski's version of KRACHfor girls high school hockey .  What  I like best about KRACH is that it covers top to bottomall teams; breaks it down into Class A and AA; Strength of Schedule; and Ranking by Section.   Welcome Brian, we look forward to your contribution.

   Now for some seasonal updates.   We had a great Fall Clinic with nearly 150 coaches attending.   Our clinic received advanced clinic status from USA Hockey, and for those who qualify and of course register and do the USA Hockey modules, a Level 4 Certification was possible.  I have given a goalie presentation or two, and we have had other notable speakers on the subject, but nobody does it better than our resident goalie guru Steve Guider, head coach at Blaine.   Steve gave an interesting and informative on ice session using one of his former goalies and recent St Cloud grad Ashley Nixon.

   Our coaches drill sharing sessions are always well received, and this year we featured Laura Slominski, Chantl Rivard, Natalie Darwitz, Glen Gilderman, and Vic Brodt.  At our executive council meeting the night before, Jaime Grossman reported that we had an outstanding representation of College Coaches at our summer Junior Fest.

   Harry Rosenholtz, former coach from Yale and Quinnipiac, spoke at our business meeting Saturday morning regarding a service to help get those girls not of the elite level status, but good prospects, to get noticed by college coaches looking for that solid player and possible late bloomer.   Harry will have a web site soon, and we will post it. His email address is  

   Sad to see Len Vanelli step down.  I don't know all the circumstances, but Len knew his hockey, and was effective in developing players over the years.  On another note, it is nice to see Amber Heglund back coaching again.  As a player she was as fierce a competitor as there was, and she needs to bring that to our young female players.   I am delighted to see her coaching high school again.

   College hockey is under way and the Gopher Women are off to a strong start with several young faces.   In addition to Minnesota, Wisconsin, UMD, Bemidji, and North Dakota are already making their presence felt.  Gustavus and River Falls are strong again at D-3, and the college where I enjoyed a great coaching experience, Augsburg, is off to their best start in recent years.  The Gopher and UMD men's teams are also playing some good hockey at this writing.   The Wild lead their division by 3 points.  Who would have ever predicted that so soon?   All those things are of note for another reason. Some of us "old timers"  always believed that many of the skills we learned came from watching 'good hockey' and good players at the various levels.   We also felt that many of the girls we coached didn't seek out very much high level hockey, just to watch and observe what players like Pierre Marc Bouchard, and Miko Koivu can do, or the way outstanding defensemen play a one on one.   With the high level of college hockey for both men and women, and the fantastic skills of the pro's, there are plenty of opportunities to observe and imitate great players.   Coaches and parents encourage players and daughters to seek out more opportunities to just watch good hockey.

From some of the early scores, it appears that there are more good teams out there this year looking for that strong finish come February.   Sadly there are some programs that are not as fortunate, and also places like Richfield who had to fold their program for lack of players.

Overtime Notes...I am frustrated with the coaches and teams who do not make good use of our web site.   It seems so simple to me that keeping records, statistics, and creating a following, along with publicity and pride in your program ,should be part of the equation of coaching.   Before the existence of our web site this was a huge time consuming task and generally left to the coach.   Now it can be spread to others to help, be they students, parents, or assistants.   We will continue to ask our teams to use our web site to its fullest potential.

   Sad about Richfield's failure to provide a team  with the numbers capable of competing, but even more devistating is the timing.   Most programs will have an indication of their lack of available players well before the start, so as to give their competition enough time to fill games lost.  It is also very sad that the players who were there perhaps have no where to play this season.

   ICE magazine has gone from print to web distribution.   It was a nice publication, but never created the volumn it should have.  It can now be found at:

   Goalie coach Mike Moline, at Park-Cottage Grove, is having great success in that role. He is usung the same tools that made him a successful goalie at North St Paul in the early 80's.   He was an energetic, enthusiastic, hard worker, who hated to get scored on, and used his talents well.   His goalies seem to possess the same characteristics...way to go Mike!!!

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