SAVANNAH, Ga. – Regulation ended, sixty minutes of hockey had been played, and the Savannah Ghost Pirates were once again, heading to overtime. This time, they were bringing the Atlanta Gladiators with them.
The broadcaster announced the start of the extra period while throwing in the fact that this was Atlanta’s first overtime period of the year. I’ll admit; I did a double take.
I have become so accustomed to covering the Savannah Ghost Pirates this year that I had not stopped to really think about the number of overtime games Savannah had played to start the season. I was aware that Savannah had played more than their fair share of overtime periods, but just exactly how much more extra hockey had Savannah played that other teams haven’t?
So far in the ECHL, every team has played somewhere between seven and twelve games. The average sits at 9.3 games played by every team. The Norfolk Admirals currently lead with 12 games played, while the Tulsa Oilers are trailing the pack with only seven games played.
Currently, the ECHL teams are averaging 1.5 OT periods played per team in the league, and only two teams are yet to play an overtime period: the South Carolina Stingrays and Norfolk Admirals. The Norfolk one is a bit surprising, considering they have played the most games.
But what does this actually mean? Is it just an observation that Savannah, in their five overtime games, has played three and a half more overtime periods than the league average?
Well, yes and no.
Savannah does lead the league in overtime periods, but not all overtime periods are created equal. For example, Wichita has played only one overtime period less than Savannah, yet they have only played an extra 5:47 of hockey in their four overtime periods. Which is a whopping 21:40 less than Savannah.
In fact, Savannah sits on a mountain alone in regards to the time of overtime hockey played at 27:27. If you were to add a full seven-minute period to every other team in the league, none of them would reach that time. The only team that would be anywhere near matching the minutes of Savannah’s time are the Fort Wayne Komets, who have played 20:28 of overtime hockey so far this year. Nearly 13-and-a-half minutes of that time was played against Savannah.
In fact, if you take the average time of every other team in the league (excluding Savannah), you get 5:31 as the average extra time played per team. Which is 21:56 less than that played by Savannah.
Fans may still be wondering what the issue here is, especially since overtime hockey is one of the most exhilarating things about the sport. I will admit I, too, am a fan of the occasional overtime hockey game by whichever team I would root for. The issue with Savannah is that the overtime periods are coming at an unhealthy pace. Over half of their games played thus far have gone to overtime, and Savannah has played very lengthy overtime periods.
For a team like the Ghost Pirates, who are already dealing with a laundry list of injuries, playing extra time does not help resolve that issue. Especially with the hits skaters can take in overtime frames, such as the hit Tristan Thompson sustained in Sunday’s matchup against Atlanta that left him on the ice for a lengthy period.
Ice hockey is an extremely strenuous sport on the human body. Savannah has been looking for ways to finish games in regulation, and they must continue to work towards that in order to stave off future unnecessary time on the ice. This would allow their player’s bodies some much-needed relief after regulation.
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