There’s a method to the high-scoring madness in the Eastern Conference.
First, the numbers: The seven highest-scoring ECHL teams play in the East, led by last weekend’s opponent, the Elmira Jackals, with 3.65 goals per game.
A number that seems unrelated, at a glance, is 51. That’s how many players (including goalies) have appeared in an Elmira uniform this season.
What’s the connection?
“Teams out west are probably tighter in their systems at this time of year because of the stability of their rosters,” Jackals coach Malcolm Cameron said. “Whereas us, we have guys learning on the fly. Guys coming in with no practice time have to jump into our system. That’s happened, I don’t know how many times this year, where you get guys coming down without practices and they have to play three in three.
“It’s tough but we’re battling through it.”
That helps explain the contradiction between the amount of talent siphoning through the roster, and the Jackals’ middling 21-20-6-1 record to show for it.
Cameron said that depth has been a concern at times, like when he had to sign three defensemen out of the “Single-A” Federal Hockey League for a brief period. At other times, the problem has been the opposite.
“When you get guys coming down from the American Hockey League, and you tell them they’re going to be down for ‘x’ amount of games, it’s tough to get those guys to buy in when they know they’re going right back up again,” Cameron said. “It’s tough for their teammates, it’s tough for their coach.”
Added Reign coach Karl Taylor:
“Traditionally out west was more run and gun. I think it’s changed a lot in the last three years. … Now it’s tough, tough sledding out here. Every team is good. Every team is fighting in the standings. Out east you get more one-game call-ups, so you get more short-term roster moves than we do out here, based on money and availability.”