Drive Hockey brings analytics to the roots of grass (or ice) sports

As the NHL begins to reap the benefits of its long-awaited puck and player tracking system, a Vancouver-based startup is looking to bring the same technology to the youth hockey ranks where the company says its needs are still high. taller.

What we’re trying to do is bring new tools, new resources, new technologies to a segment of the market that has been vastly underserved and, you might say, perhaps needs the most resources given that in younger age groups the learning curve from a player development standpoint is usually steeper,” said Drive Hockey Analytics Chief Operating Officer Adam Nathwani.

Elite leagues can use the data to power broadcasts and sports betting opportunities in addition to player load management and tactical analysis. However, when considering the needs of teen gamers, the primary use case is player development.

Hockey drive taken from a project whose founder and CEO Mike Dahlstedyoulongtime recreational hockey player and coachgrew inside the MAKE+ prototype laboratory to British Columbia Institute of Technology. Founded in 2018, the company filed its first patents in 2019 and began testing with a few youth programs. These efforts have been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic but are renewed this spring with the intention of increasing the seed investment cycle. (To date, Drive has been backed by angel investors and a few grants from the Canadian government.)

Young players were able to learn Drive Hockey analytics remotely.

The configuration is relatively lean. Drive recommends placing approximately 12-14 moveable anchors around the rink; after a first investigation, mobile beacons can be identified by a transparent sticker left on the board. The first iteration of its product will include sensors in the puck and on players’ equipment, just like the NHL, but later versions will have the option of inserting sensors under the grip on the end of the stick, much like the bat or club catchers in baseball or golf.

The stick insert, we find, is super useful for more skill-based metrics, like how fast your stick is moving? What is the angle of the blade?said Nathwani. Those types of things – really tracking hand speed and skill or sticking skill-based metrics as opposed to location and events from location.

Nathwani, who played Simon Fraser university and coached junior hockey in British Columbia, says the company essentially completed its hardware R&D a year ago while continuing to develop its software and analytics. Senior Data Engineer krishant Akella was recently one of three finalists in the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference NHL Tracking Data” Hackathon.”Ron Johnson, a recognized hockey coachis an advisor.

In younger age groups, the learning curve in terms of player development is generally steeper.

Adam Nathwani, COO of Drive Hockey Analytics

Drive provides two versions of its application, a light version with the most critical metrics that will be available to coaches on the bench in real time and the more robust dashboard available minutes after the game.

Basically what we’re trying to do is really simplify a lot—wI want it to be intuitive“, Nathwani said. “We don’t want to be too prescriptive in what we do. We just want to make sure that coaches have additional information and can use their own coaching styles and intuition to take advantage of that information.

One of the few coaches to have tested the technology is Sinclair Kim, who coaches the Greater Vancouver Canadians AAA U15 Team, a program that participate in the British Columbia Elite Hockey League and produced a dozen NHL players. Kim notes that his current roster of players – many of whom will be drafted into junior hockey – was excited by the new source of information. Over time, Kim hopes to learn more about her team’s individual skills.

Future iterations of Drive Hockey equipment are expected to have the sensors inserted into the end of the stick, much like baseball or golf bat or club sensors.

Future iterations of Drive Hockey equipment are expected to have the sensors inserted into the end of the stick, much like baseball or golf bat or club sensors.

I hope the player rating could be much better,” he says. Sometimes you miss things, especially in the middle of a game. We obviously have a video to help us out somehow that, but having numbers can help players understand why they are struggling in certain areas or what they can work on in the future.

The reader The hockey technology will not be synchronized with the video, but the two can still be used in parallel. Additionally, much of what is recorded manually through tedious video review can be automated.

For example, you can track things like which player made the most successful passes, something you might never have considered before.“, Nathwani said. And, he adds, users will receive enough data to gather more information beyond counting discrete moments and statistics. “Not only are we able to identify certain events, but we are also better able to understand what led to those events, hence a greater ability to understand cause and effect.

Lance B. Holton