Time zones are one of Steve Cocker’s best friends.
Cocker is an analytics guy who joined the Penticton Vees this summer as an intern director of hockey operations and analytics. He’s also a consultant for advanced statistics with the Zurich Lions of the National League A and SC Langenthal in National League B in Switzerland.
“It definitely helps out,” said Cocker, who reviews games in two to three hours. “When they are finishing a game, it’s around noon to 1 p.m. here. It does give me some time to get it done.”
Cocker then sends the report to both teams and speaks with Lions coach, Marc Crawford, who worked benches in the NHL, and SCL coach Jason O’Leary, a Penticton native, on the phone.
“It’s a lot, but you know, I’m young in my career and I’m willing to put the work in. I did it last year as well,” said Cocker, 24, who split last season with the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League St. John Sea Dogs and the Lahti Pelicans in the Finnish SM-Liga U-20 league. “There is 24 hours in a day, when I get back home, the situation doesn’t change. I’m still sitting in front of my computer and looking at the Zurich games, looking at the SC Langenthal games. I anticipated I’d be busy. It’s nothing that I can’t handle.”
Cocker’s interest in analytics stemmed from baseball, whose managers are pioneers of analytics and has made the most impact using those stats. It was about three years go when he first started reading about it. While studying sports management at the Sport Institute of Finland in Vierumäki he was able to work with some junior programs.
Cocker connected with the Vees when coach-general manager Fred Harbinson and assistant coach Nick Fuher showed interest in adding analytics to enhance their program. In a team statement, Harbinson said the organization realizes how the game is evolving and said Cocker will bring another level of professionalism to the Vees’ program.
In bringing his skill set to the BCHL club, the team wants to see the success their players have in managing puck possession, gaining zones and how their D-core progresses the play up ice and getting it out of their zone. While Cocker has just a small sample size of games so far, he said “things do look impressive for the guys.”
“It’s been a good start,” he said of the Vees who were 3-1-0 heading into the fourth Bauer BCHL Showcase in Chilliwack this week. The Vees played Alberni Valley on Thursday evening and Chilliwack tonight at 7:30 p.m.
Cocker will be at all Vees games and will do his work using an iPad, which has an application called Stats Track, which he said is a program with potential.
Cocker, an Orangeville Flyers minor hockey product, said he brings a different perspective on evaluating players. It’s about setting development benchmarks for the players; a tool that helps coaches with decision-making.
“I think it’s an excellent secondary resource,” he said.