Crunching the numbers: Is it easier to win at home than on the road?

(PHOTO: Elite League)
We’re always hearing how the Elite League is improving in quality and the teams getting more and more competitive, but statistics are showing points are staying at home.
In a review of league results in the last three seasons, the percentage of home wins achieved has risen by 10%, away wins fell comparing seasons 2016/17 and 2017/18, but rose slightly last season.
The numbers of teams in the league have fluctuated of course, going from 10 in 16/17 to 12 the following campaign and down to 11 last year.
But it’s showing victories are more likely to come at home than away as we looked at the results from the last three seasons.
In the 10 team set up in 2016/17, of the 260 league fixtures played, it yielded 143 wins from teams at home, with 128 of them in regulation time.  
That leaves only 15 going beyond regulation time where the home team went on to claim the extra point, but it marked difference from wins for the visiting side, who won 45% of games in the EIHL, with 88 games decided in regulation time.
However 29 games needed the extra period or in 11 cases, penalty shots to see the away side over the line.
The following year, which saw the Elite League increase to 12 teams due to the additions of Milton Keynes Lightning and Guildford Flames, there were naturally more fixtures, with 336 played, up 76 from the season before.
As a result, there were 197 home wins, 173 of which came in 60 minutes, with 14 needing overtime to settle things and a further 10 taken to penalty shots.
Compare that with 139 away wins, down 3.5% on the season before as 116 games were completed in regulation time while 23 were decided by virtue of overtime or penalty shots.
Moving on to the season just finished when 11 teams were in play due to the departure of Edinburgh Capitals, bringing the number of games down to 330, but it threw up an increase in home wins, 200 in total, up by three in total.
Of those, 163 were won in regulation time, with 27 and 22 settled by overtime and penalty shots respectively with the road team victorious on 96 occasions in 60 minutes, only 10 in the overtime period and a further 12 from the spot.
So, as the Elite League returns to a 10-team format next year and 260 fixtures to decide who finishes where, how will it impact on how the wins are distributed?
To see 65% of all games go the way of the home team is a surprise, considering how competitive the Elite League has become, particularly in a season where 10 of the 11 teams were all playing for something going into the final weekend.
The fact the number of regulation time wins by teams that were visiting fell by almost 30 was also surprising and these figures show that while good home form can be the cornerstone of a good campaign, picking up those road wins can make the difference when it comes to challenging for a league title.

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