Power Play: How Big Data is Revolutionizing Hockey

Few sporting events are more exciting to attend than a hockey game. No matter if you’re sitting rink side or all the way in the top row, there’s an undeniable energy in the arena. While more casual fans are probably hoping for lots of goals and the occasional fight to break out, fans of analytics have plenty of reasons to celebrate – we’re really starting to see what big data can do within the sport. Let’s take a look at how big data is already transforming the ice.

HockeyTech is one company that’s trying to take the data the NHL provides to the next level. Stu Siegel, former managing partner/owner of the Florida Panthers, founded the company in 2012 after hearing concerns that the data the NHL has isn’t always accurate or even available. HockeyTech works with every NHL team to provide strategic and useful information.

“You can have the smartest analytics people in the world,” Siegel said. “But if they don’t have good data they are going to be limited. Many of the GMs I talk to are very weary of the data and its consistency.”

In addition to providing data for NHL teams, HockeyTech is also developing player tracking. Previously, this had been a manual process – inputting data such as shifts and the length of time it takes a player to enter the ice during a line change. By automating this process, HockeyTech can provide data that teams have never been able to analyze before. That automation just may serve as a game-changer for franchises.

With chips embedded in the puck and a radio frequency ID system on players, there’s a whole avenue of statistics available, from puck possession data to time spent chasing down loose pucks. This type of technology can be used not just in hockey, but also across all of sports. We’re already starting to see big data become more commonplace in sports, and that usage will continue to grow. MarketsandMarkets is forecasting the global market for advanced data sports analytics to reach $4.7 billion by 2021.

We often see that, for these applications, the cloud can be the platform that best meets the high demands of the sports industry’s big data needs. The cloud can allow for quick ingestion of data from numerous locations such as arenas and then provide the compute power and data retrieval systems for real-time analytics on the collected data. It also allows for efficiency in being able to turn up cloud resources during the height of the season (or playoffs like now) or turn down resources during the offseason. Cloud Serverless computing also can provide the ability to run code in reaction to specific defined events that occur during a sporting event. The cloud can often provide a platform for sports big data needs with the speed and scalability to capture and analyze the large quantities of data needed.

Players and teams will only improve the efficiency of their craft as this data is unpacked and utilized. The end result will be better quality, more entertaining games. As fans, what more could we ask for?

For other ways big data is impacting the world of sports, check out the following posts:

Our Favorite March Madness Upsets, Courtesy of Big Data

Need Even More March Madness? Check Out This Basketball Sensor Hardware

David Lucky is a Product Marketing leader at Rackspace for the Managed Public Cloud services group, a global business unit focused on delivering end-to-end digital transformation services on AWS, Azure, GCP and Alibaba. David came to Rackspace from Datapipe where as Director of Product Management for six years he led product development in building services to help enterprise clients leverage managed IT services to solve complex business challenges. David has unique insight into the latest product developments for private, public and hybrid cloud platforms and a keen understanding of industry trends and their impact on business development. He holds an engineering degree from Lehigh University and is based out of Jersey City, NJ. You can follow David on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/in/davidlucky and Twitter @Luckys_Blog.