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For Immediate Release
April 8, 2014

For more information, contact
Janet Roy
(585) 395-2267

Sports Analytics: A Statistical Look at Fighting in Hockey

One of the current "hot button" issues in the world of professional sports is the role of fighting in professional ice hockey. This presentation examines how fighting in hockey affects wins, losses and attendance.

Brockport, NY - For every fan, fighting is an expected and time-honored tradition in the game of hockey. Some of the top teams in the National Hockey League (NHL) and American Hockey League (AHL) are known for having strong fighters among their ranks. It’s often seen as a draw for attendance as well.

In their presentation, Five for Fighting: A Statistical Look at Fighting in Hockey, Sport Management majors Michael D’Augustino ’14 and Scott Matla ’14 examined the correlation between fighting and the game of hockey. Using analytics, the students investigated NHL teams across the entire league from the 2005-06 to the 2012-13 season. Data was collected from public available sources, including, and By taking a systematic approach to statistically analyze the impact of fighting on a team’s winning, losing, and attendance, they hoped to discover practical implications for the league and team managers.

“By controlling the results and looking at all teams over the years, we hoped to show statistically significant results,” said Matla. “Although there are myths surrounding the effect of fighting on the outcome of a game, there haven’t been studies completed across the entire league — only on individual teams.”

The study results show that fighting has a negative impact on the number of wins a team has per season. In turn, it affects the number of losses as well:

• Fighting has a significant negative impact on a team’s winning after controlling the year and divisions. • Fighting has a significant positive impact on a team’s losing after controlling the year and divisions.

• The more a team fights, the more likely they are to lose a game.

• Fighting has a negative impact on attendance.(This result was not significantly significant.)

“Fighting is part of the game and a tradition. But, our results show that it contributes to less attendance and loss,” said D’Augustino.

What can coaches and team management take away from these results? According to D’Augustino and Matla, advanced statistics can be used to determine who to sign and who to put in the line ups to improve team performance. Hockey, just like other professional sports, is a revenue-driven business. Team management needs to consider attendance at games alongside wins and losses to make their decisions.

“This is a very interesting and cutting-edge study and great example of sports analytics, which is a hot topic in the field and academia,” said Assistant Professor Jun Woo Kim, PhD, from the Department of Kinesiology, Sport Studies and Physical Education. Dr. Kim teaches “Problems in Sport Management,” and helped D’Augustino and Matla with their design and data analysis for the project.

The students and Dr. Kim plan to submit the abstract of the study for the 2015 New England Symposium on Statistics in Sports, which is held at Harvard University, and is one of the most prestigious sports analytics conferences in the nation. Afterward, the manuscript of the study will be submitted to the Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sport, which is owned by the American Statistical Association.

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