By Dave Leaderhouse
While the other leagues in the Canadian Junior Hockey League all have clear-cut leaders, the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League doesn’t and that’s what makes looking at the national weekly rankings even more interesting and somewhat entertaining.
Other than a few teams flipping positions, the same teams occupy the top seven spots on the weekly list. For the SJHL, with no one running away and hiding, it is a matter of who gets into the Top 20 while also seeing who falls off.
This week it is the Flin Flon Bombers and Humboldt Broncos getting acknowledged for their recent strong play while the Nipawin Hawks and Kindersley Klippers have disappeared.
Nipawin entered last week with five straight wins, but a pair of narrow setbacks to the Melfort Mustangs on the weekend drops them into second place in the tightly-grouped Sherwood Division. It also sees them not even get an honourable mention this time around as Melfort claimed that distinction based on a better winning percentage. The Mustangs are now just two points back of the Hawks with a pair of games in hand.
Kindersley got three of a possible four points on the weekend, but their winning percentage is identical to that of Nipawin, hence, they too are no longer among the top teams in the country. The Klippers actually lost ground on Humboldt in the Global Ag Risk Solutions Division as the Broncos have extended their current winning streak to four games resulting in a five-point bulge for the division lead while also grabbing a four-point cushion on Flin Flon for first place overall.
Despite their lofty position, Humboldt is the second-highest-ranked SJHL club this week as the Bombers are No. 18 compared to the No. 20 spot occupied by the Broncos. Flin Flon gets the nod as their winning percentage is slightly better than that of the Broncos thanks largely to holding three games in hand on the front runners.
One other team that could get into this conversation soon is the Battlefords North Stars as they are closing in on those ahead of them in the standings thanks to registering points in their last four games. The North Stars begin this week just six points back of Humboldt, but they too hold a pair of games in hand and could tighten things up even further if they take advantage of those contests.
There are a lot of games this week pitting the top teams against each other so one shouldn’t expect things to change as any one of the top six could move higher on the weekly list or drop right of sight as has been the case for most of the current season. Stay tuned!
The CJHL Top 20 Rankings
(As of Nov. 12)
RANK TEAM (LEAGUE) (LAST WEEK)
1. Brooks Bandits (AJHL) (1)
2. Oakville Blades (OJHL) (4)
3. Brockville Braves (CCHL) (3)
4. North York Rangers (OJHL) (2)
5. Thunder Bay North Stars (SIJHL) (6)
6. Cobras de Terrebonne (LHJAAAQ) (5)
7. Summerside Western Capitals (MHL) (7)
8. Sherwood Park Crusaders (AJHL) (9)
9. Yarmouth Jr. ‘A’ Mariners (MHL) (12)
10. Swan Valley Stampeders (MJHL) (8)
11. Carleton Place Canadians (CCHL) (15)
12. Portage Terriers (MJHL) (16)
13. Titan de Princeville (LHJAAAQ) (11)
14. Hawkesbury Hawks (CCHL) (10)
15. Soo Thunderbirds (NOJHL) (18)
16. Chilliwack Chiefs (BCHL) (14)
17. Bonnyville Pontiacs (AJHL) (13)
18. Flin Flon Bombers (SJHL) (HM)
19. Kirkland Lake Gold Miners (NOJHL) (17)
20. Humboldt Broncos (SJHL) (HM)
HONOURABLE MENTION: Victoria Grizzlies (BCHL); Spruce Grove Saints (AJHL); Melfort Mustangs (SJHL); Red Lake Miners (SIJHL); Powassan Voodoos (NOJHL)