Fantasy sports are insanely popular among sports fans. According to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, about 59.3 million people play some sort of fantasy sporting game among major sports.
And now, the number just increased by seven.
For the first time, we at Team Sin Bin decided to have a bit of fun this season and start up our own fantasy hockey league exclusively involving SPHL players.
Obviously, we had to go old-school and simplify things in setting up such a fantasy league in a sport where rosters can be so fluid. We don’t have the kinds of resources available that fantasy players of major sports enjoy like mobile applications, automated scoring, and massive infrastructure to handle transactions & trades.
When I first brought up the idea to our SPHL team, I was pleasantly surprised to find they were all-in on this project. Playing in the inaugural season of SPHL Fantasy Hockey are TSB managing editor Matthew Harding; writers Dana Barker, Brad Harrison, Anna Headley, and Ronald Hagood, Jr.; photographer Kori LaVire, and myself.
The rules are extremely stripped-down as modern fantasy sports are concerned, going back to a day when fantasy leagues were run with spreadsheets and box scores from newspapers. The draft was only five rounds with each owner selecting a goalie, a defenseman, and three forwards from the current pool of SPHL players. There will be no trading, no waivers, no free-agent pickups – we ride or die with the five players chosen. The draft order was chosen at random, with Harrison drawing the long straw while I got punked by the fantasy gods.
- Brad Harrison
- Matthew Harding
- Anna Headley
- Kori LaVire
- Dana Barker
- Ronald Hagood, Jr.
- Mike Campos
The scoring system will be points-based, with different points awarded for statistical categories. The scoring is based on Yahoo Fantasy Sports standard scoring categories.
|Goal: 6 points||Win: 5 points|
|Assist: 4 points||Goals against: -3 points|
|Plus/Minus: 2 points||Save: 0.6 points|
|Special Teams points: 2 points||Shutout: 5 points|
|Shots on Goal: 0.9 points|
|Penalty Minutes: 0.5 points|
The opening round of the SPHL Fantasy Draft proved to be very goalie-heavy, with four netminders going in the opening round.
1. Harrison – Jordan Ruby (G-Macon)
The Pick – Ruby was one of the league’s top two netminders during the 2016-17 season, but was especially brilliant during the Mayhem’s Presidents Cup championship run. Ruby, 21-6-3 during the regular season with two shutouts, a 2.32 GAA, and a .925 SV%, became a literal brick wall in the postseason. Ruby went 6-1 with a 1.38 GAA and an astronomical .957 SV% on his way to being named the 2017 playoff MVP. Last season, Ruby played in France where he led all goaltenders in his league with 20 wins, a 2.16 GAA and a .907 SV%.
The Reason – Harrison believes that Ruby is an elite netminder who is likely to stay in Macon through the entire season. Should a Mayhem goalie take a call-up, it’s likely to be Gordon Defiel.
2. Harding – Jake Trask (F-Macon)
The Pick – Over the past three seasons, Trask is the leagues second-most prolific scorer. Trask trails only Fayetteville’s Jake Hauswirth with 164 points to Hauswirth’s 166. With a career-high 69 points scored last season, Trask earned his first All-SPHL nod and should put up similar numbers this season.
The Reason – Macon’s going to put up a bunch of offense, and Harding sees Trask as a 50-60 point producer this season.
3. Headley – Peter Di Salvo (G-Quad City)
The Pick – Di Salvo enters his sixth season in the SPHL with his sixth different team with the Quad City Storm. Despite struggling early in the season with the Fayetteville Marksmen (and be honest, who didn’t), Di Salvo racked up 12 wins over the second half of last season with successful stints with Peoria and Macon, winding up third in the league in wins with 17.
The Reason – Headley liked how Di Salvo ended the season with a strong showing for the Macon Mayhem and sees Di Salvo as being successful in Quad City.
4. Barker – Brian Billett (G-Pensacola)
The Pick – Billett entered the league with a flourish with the Knoxville Ice Bears back in 2016, putting up elite-level numbers over the second half of the 2015-16 season. The last two years, Billett has struggled on a sub-par Knoxville team in 2016-17 and a Pensacola team which underachieved down the stretch last season. With Rod Aldoff back behind the bench at the Bay Center, Billett is primed for a big year playing for a coach who gets the most out of the defensive zone.
The Reason – While Barker believes that Andrew D’Agostini may get his share of starts to begin the season, the two-year starter for ECHL Brampton will find his way back up to double-A hockey as the season progresses, leaving Billett with a heavy workload the rest of the way. This could be a breakout year for the former Boston College netminder.
5. LaVire – Brad Barone (G-Roanoke)
The Pick – Another Boston College netminder and former teammate of Billett with the Golden Eagles, Billett and Barone both entered the SPHL at around the same time. Of current SPHL goaltenders, Barone’s 45 wins over the past three years lead all netminders. At the end of last year, Barone was selected SPHL Goalie of the Year by the teams around the league and also earned All-SPHL first team honors.
The Reason – LaVire, formerly the team photographer for the RiverKings, believes Barone will put up elite-level numbers under Roanoke coach Dan Bremner’s systems. Over his last 15 starts – all under Bremner – Barone went 9-5-1 with a 2.29 GAA and a .925 SV%.
6. Hagood – Jake Hauswirth (F-Fayetteville)
The Pick – Hauswirth is the only active player to be named to the last three All-SPHL teams. Also, the 6’4″ forward with a cannon for a shot is the SPHL’s leading scorer over the last three years with 166 points and is the focal point of the Marksmen offensive attack. With new coach Jesse Kallechy putting more talent around him, 75 points is not out of the realm of possibility for Hauswirth.
The Reason – Despite Hauswirth’s offensive skills making him a likely call-up target for ECHL teams, the forward stuck with a disastrous Fayetteville team despite the obvious temptations to leave for greener pastures. Hauswirth is expected to stay in Fayetteville the entire season this year.
7. Campos – Alec Hagaman (F-Peoria)
The Pick – Long known for his instigating skills during his first three years in the SPHL, Hagaman picked up his game to an elite level last season, scoring 61 points, amassing a league-leading +37 plus/minus rating, while still keeping his reputation as a pest alive with 151 penalty minutes – tying his career high. Hagaman earned his first-ever All-SPHL nomination last season, gaining first-team honors. The sky is the limit this year for the new Rivermen captain.
The Reason – Hagaman’s skill set closely matches that of Boston’s Brad Marchand – a potent offensive player who skates with an attitude and plays on the edge. Hagaman was sixth in scoring, fourth in penalty minutes, and tops in plus/minus – he’s the most well-rounded player in the league, and that’s fantasy gold.
Rounds two through five went as follows:
|Pick||Round 2||Round 3||Round 4||Round 5|
|1||Campos – Nolan Kaiser (D-HSV)||Harrison – Danny Cesarz (F-KNX)||Campos – Ryan Marcuz (F-MRK)||Harrison – Zach Urban (D-MAC)|
|2||Hagood – Josh Harris (F-BHM)||Harding – John Siemer (F-MAC)||Hagood – Junior Harris (D-QCS)||Harding – Eric Levine (G-QCS)|
|3||Barker – Steve Mele (F-RNK)||Headley – Tanner Froese (F-PEN)||Barker – Nathan Bruyere (D-PEN)||Headley – Cody Dion (F-RNK)|
|4||LaVire – Don Olivieri (D-QCS)||LaVire – Derek Sutliffe (F-MAC)||LaVire – Matt Harrington (F-PEN)||LaVire – Brantley Sherwood (F-PEN)|
|5||Headley – Phil Tesoriero (D-KNX)||Barker – Christian Powers (F-HSV)||Headley – Michael Economos (F-RNK)||Barker – Mike Gurtler (F-PEO)|
|6||Harding – Sy Nutkevitch (F-HSV)||Hagood – DeLaVergne (G-HSV)||Harding – David Brancik (D-KNX)||Hagood – Mike Davis (F-BHM)|
|7||Harrison – Kyle Sharkey (F-HSV)||Campos – Jacob Barber (F-BHM)||Harrison – Vincent Beaudry (F-PEO)||Campos – Mason Pulde (G-PEO)|
You can listen to the entire SPHL Fantasy Draft below, with our reasons behind all 35 draft picks. Throughout the season, we’re going to keep the scoring and team standings updates as the season progresses.
Tell us what you think, y’all! Who wins this fantasy league?