Depth is a significant advantage for Ohio Northern, with their roster count holding steady at 54 players, mirroring last season’s total. This is no small detail, as it positions them among the larger teams in the country. Such depth is a luxury that allows for experimentation with personnel and a buffer against the inevitable injuries that can plague a season. It’s a strong foundation that affords the coaching staff flexibility in managing the team and the ability to sustain high levels of performance throughout the grueling season.
Offensively, Ohio Northern is poised to build on last year’s successes. The team retains a whopping 97% of its offensive output, an enviable position that suggests continuity will be a significant strength. The distributed nature of the departures among lower usage players suggests there are no glaring holes to fill, which should make the transition into the new season relatively seamless. Given that the offense was ranked in the 63rd percentile nationally on an opponent-adjusted basis, and the returning players are well-acquainted with the systems and expectations, we could see an even more efficient and potent offense this season. That is the optimistic read of course. Typically players become more efficient as they gain experience, so it’s not a sure thing that they’ll be better, but history is with them.
The faceoff dot is another area where Ohio Northern looks just about like they did last year. With an impressive 97% of their faceoff experience returning, the team has a solid foundation to dominate possession, both in their actual draw-takers and in the wings that will go after those ground balls. The retention of draw specialists like Chad Calderwood, who had a 54.8% win rate and was the 208th best specialist according to the faceoff Elo ratings last year, is crucial for maintaining an edge in this critical aspect of the game. Again, the core is intact, which should help them at least maintain, if not improve upon, their 66th percentile national ranking in the faceoff game.
Defensively, the team’s outlook is particularly promising, with 100% of their saves returning between the pipes. The security of having Cole Zaferakis, who posted a respectable 55.0% save percentage, back in goal cannot be overstated. This continuity, especially for a defense that was ranked in the 93rd percentile, is invaluable. The addition of freshman goalkeeper Phil Newcomer adds depth, but with no experienced transfers coming in, Zaferakis is expected to remain the cornerstone of the defensive unit. His veteran presence should provide stability and confidence to the defensive line in front of him.
In sum, Ohio Northern’s roster is well-positioned to not just replicate but potentially exceed last year’s accomplishments. The team’s depth, offensive continuity, faceoff experience, and defensive solidity are all indicators of a program ready to continue its upward trajectory. While it’s always challenging to make predictions, especially in sports, the roster composition suggests that Ohio Northern fans have good reason to look forward to the upcoming season with optimism.
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P.S. What did I miss? Data-centric analyses like this can miss things that don’t show up in the stats (i.e. injuries/coaching changes). If you can help explain any of the above, put it in the comments.