I have always had passion for numbers.
Going back to my young days of long, long ago – I am entitled to say that now! – I remember what first sparked my interest. Regular readers of my columns know what a huge Peanuts fan I am. There was a cartoon where a boy named “5” arrived in the neighbourhood.
“Hi there, puppy dog,” said 5, extending his hand to shakes Snoopy’s paw. “My name is 5!”
“I can never get (numbers) straight,” thinks Snoopy. “Did he say V or 5?” referring to Roman numerals.
Five has since been my favourite number. I thought it was sort of cool to be named after a number.
Growing up, I always wanted to be an accountant. In Grade 12, our learned educators gave us Physics 30, Math 30 and Math 31 in one semester, including the latter two subjects in the afternoon. My brain fizzled! That was the end of being an accountant!
Years later, I decided to become a reporter after being inspired by Dennis Hegland, former editor at the Fairview Post. Covering sports, I realized most sports fan loved statistics. Vern Walker used to keep the stats for the High Prairie Regals. Eventually, I kept them myself.
Then I met North Peace Hockey League president Jack McAvoy and took on the role of NPHL statistician. Except for one year, I have compiled stats since 1990-91. I even completed the year I took off. I have always appreciated McAvoy giving an unproven the chance. I was following in the footsteps of greats like Al “Boomer” Adair and Billy Henitiuk from Manning, regarded to be the best statistician up to his time.
I must be doing something right. No one has offered to take over the role since.
I like to provide fans with crazy statistics. I was inspired by the Elias Sports Bureau, who comes up with such information and is often quoted during sports telecasts. Just last week, I discovered the Falher Pirates set a record for best penalty killing units this season, just under 90 per cent. Congratulations to them!
The Valleyview Jets’ win at Manning Feb. 7 ended three long streaks. It was their first playoff win since Feb. 22, 2000 – just under 23 years – their first road playoff win since Feb. 19, 1994. – just under 29 years ago – and their first playoff win at Manning since Feb. 25, 1993 – just under 30 years ago. Crazy stuff!
One of my favourites is that High Prairie’s Deen Flett is the only player known in NPHL history to lead his team in scoring without scoring a power play, shorthanded or game-winning goal all season It is difficult to do!
Or how about goaltender Rick Young of Valleyview recording four assists in one game or Fort St. John goaltender Troy Hunt recording three assists in a game, all in the second period and in under 10 minutes?
I even created a new stat after watching Mario Lemieux score five goals one night. I call it the Grand Slam of Goals. It occurs when a player scores a power play goal, shorthanded goal, game-winning goal and scoring in each period during a game. It has been done 15 times since the start of the 1993-94 season when I began tracking. I have never published this list. It’s my secret – for now – to be shared later!
I realize stats are not for everyone, and many enjoy watching the game but everyone has to have a hobby!