By Dave Leaderhouse
A 10-day break offered the Nipawin Hawks’ little chance of moving up in the weekly Canadian Junior Hockey League rankings and that is exactly what happened as they remained in the No. 3 position for the fourth straight week.
The Hawks, who are riding a 29-game run with picking up at least one point, return to action on Friday when they host the Humboldt Broncos and they continue with a busy Family Day weekend with a home date against the Melfort Mustangs on Saturday followed by a quick trip to Flin Flon on Monday to take on the Bombers.
While the Hawks were mostly idle last week, they did nip the Bombers 2-1 in their last outing before the break, the Battlefords North Stars had a hectic schedule playing four home games and winning all of them.
Those victories not only brought the North Stars to within two points of the Hawks for first place overall, it also had them climb two notches on the CJHL list to No. 9.
The Battlefords do not return to action until Saturday when they begin a three-games-in-three-nights southern swing in Estevan against the Viterra Division-leading Bruins. By then they could be Global Ag Risk Solutions Division champions for a third straight year with the magic number for that to happen now down to one. A loss by Humboldt in any of its two games earlier this week will seal the deal or the North Stars can take care of business themselves when they get back to work on the weekend.
The Melfort Mustangs won two of their three games last week, but that wasn’t good enough to keep them among the CJHL’s top 20 as they garnered just an honourable mention this time around.
The Mustangs, who still have an outside shot at catching the Hawks for the Sherwood Division title, have a busy long weekend themselves as they are home to Flin Flon on Friday before taking to the road for stops in Nipawin and Humboldt.
CJHL 2017-18 TOP 20 (As of Feb. 12/18)
RANK TEAM (LEAGUE) (LAST RANKING)
1. Carleton Place Canadians (CCHL) (1)
2. Okotoks Oilers (AJHL) (2)
3. Nipawin Hawks (SJHL) (3)
4. Steinbach Pistons (MJHL) (4)
5. Spruce Grove Saints (AJHL) (10)
6. Ottawa Jr. ‘A’ Senators (CCHL) (6)
7. Thief River Falls Norskies (SIJHL) (5)
8. Toronto Patriots (OJHL) (7)
9. Battlefords North Stars (SJHL) (11)
10. Les Cobras de Terrebonne (LHJAAAQ) (8)
11. Powassan Voodoos (NOJHL) (9)
12. Fort McMurray Oil Barons (AJHL) (16)
13. Brooks Bandits (AJHL) (12)
14. Penticton Vees (BCHL) (14)
15. College Français de Longueuil (LHJAAAQ) (13)
16. Dryden GM Ice Dogs (SIJHL) (15)
17. Vernon Vipers (BCHL) (NR)
18. North York Rangers (OJHL) (HM)
19. Edmundston Blizzard (MHL) (19)
20. Yarmouth Jr. A Mariners (MHL) (20)
HONOURABLE MENTION: Melfort Mustangs (SJHL); Soo Thunderbirds (NOJHL); Georgetown Raiders (OJHL); Oakville Blades (OJHL); Inouk de Granby (LHJAAAQ)