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Hockey Analytics Startup Lands Washington Capitals as First NHL Team Client

The NHL playoffs are in full swing and as the players focus on the Stanley Cup, Simon Fraser University Beedie student Cole Gawenda is already looking ahead to next season.

Gawenda is part of data analytics startup HockeyData and they’re busy tracking how stats on players from the American Hockey League, the AHL, might impact the better-known NHL—including their first NHL client team, the Washington Capitals.

Unfortunately the Capitals lost their second round playoff match up to the Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins last night.

But that may not be bad thing in the world of analytics as team management spends the summer navel-gazing about their lineup before the puck drops next year.

Using a proprietary hockey event tracking system, created with support from the National Research Council’s (NRC) Industrial Research Assistance Program, HockeyData’s system tracks every event that occurs on the ice, while increasing automation capabilities through the use of machine learning and big data processes.

“Our process involves tracking every individual player’s events based on time and location throughout a game,” explains Gawenda, operations manager. “We track each player’s performance and provide this data to the team, which allows them to gain a greater understanding of players in the American Hockey League.”

Gawenda says the data is valuable as there are more than 1,000 players in the AHL. “It’s costly for teams to hire scouts to evaluate each individual player,” he notes. “Our data allows the teams to envision trends, focus their scouting evaluations on specific players, and adjust their opinions based on the additional information we can provide. Our mission is to supplement the team’s existing evaluation tools with our tracked data.”

HockeyData was formed in the spring of 2016 with the goal of providing data and analytics to teams as well as agents completing projects related to the NHL Draft.

HockeyData was recently named ‘Best Presenting Company’ in the start-up spotlight category of the Canadian Financing Forum and was also named one of 2017’s Top Emerging Tech Companies by the Ready to Rocket program.

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