By Dave Leaderhouse
Points in their last 23 straight games has the Nipawin Hawks now ranked No. 3 overall in the weekly Canadian Junior Hockey League rankings.
The Hawks, who have not lost in regulation time since Dec. 2, are eight points clear of the Melfort Mustangs for the Sherwood Division lead and seven points in front of the Global Ag Risk Solutions Division-leading Battlefords North Stars for first place overall.
Nipawin picked up a pair of 5-0 victories in games played last week and as a result climbed three spots in the weekly rankings, a national listing of the top teams in the 10 different Junior “A” leagues across the country that comprise the CJHL.
The North Stars also made a move in the list as they climbed six spots to No. 6 after collecting a pair of one-sided victories in Yorkton and Melville on the weekend.
The Melfort Mustangs remained in the No. 16 position after they split their weekend games with the Humboldt Broncos and Melville.
The Battlefords and Melfort both have impressive runs of their own going as the North Stars have points in 12 of their last 13 games while the Mustangs have won eight of their last nine, but those streaks pale drastically to what Nipawin has going.
The Battlefords have an incredibly tough week staring them in the face as they are in Kindersley on Tuesday before moving over to Melfort on Wednesday and then on Friday they are home to Nipawin in a showdown of the league’s top two teams. The North Stars will then finish the week with a trip up to La Ronge on Saturday to face the Ice Wolves.
The Hawks and Mustangs have dramatically lighter schedules with one additional game other than the head-to-head contests against the North Stars as Nipawin is also in Kindersley this weekend while Melfort heads to Wilcox to take on the Notre Dame Hounds.
CJHL 2017-18 TOP 20 (As of Jan. 22/18)
RANK TEAM (LEAGUE) (LAST RANKING)
1. Carleton Place Canadians (CCHL) (1)
2. Okotoks Oilers (AJHL) (3)
3. Nipawin Hawks (SJHL) (6)
4. Thief River Falls Norskies (SIJHL) (2)
5. Ottawa Jr. ‘A’ Senators (CCHL) (4)
6. Battlefords North Stars (SJHL) (12)
7. Powassan Voodoos (NOJHL) (5)
8. Toronto Patriots (OJHL) (7)
9. Dryden GM Ice Dogs (SIJHL) (9)
10. Les Cobras de Terrebonne (LHJAAAQ) (8)
11. Steinbach Pistons (MJHL) (13)
12. Fort McMurray Oil Barons (AJHL) (11)
13. Spruce Grove Saints (AJHL) (14)
14. College Français de Longueuil (LHJAAAQ) (10)
15. Wellington Dukes (OJHL) (15)
16. Melfort Mustangs (SJHL) (16)
17. Brooks Bandits (AJHL) (20)
18. Aurora Tigers (OJHL) (HM)
19. Edmundston Blizzard (MHL) (19)
20. Penticton Vees (BCHL) (HM)
Honourable Mention: Portage Terriers (MJHL); Soo Thunderbirds (NOJHL); North York Rangers (OJHL); Oakville Blades (OJHL); Yarmouth Jr. ‘A’ Mariners (MHL)