By Dave Leaderhouse
When the Melfort Mustangs lost a pair of home games on the weekend it not only snapped a 10-game winning streak, but dropped them off the weekly Canadian Junior Hockey League Top 20 rankings list.
The Mustangs were as high as No. 17 when they went the better part of three weeks without a loss, but last weekend’s setbacks warranted just an honourable mention in this week’s list.
Moving ahead of them on the list, and in the Sherwood Division standings, are the Nipawin Hawks. The defending Canalta Cup champions picked up a pair of one-goal victories on the weekend to run their current winning streak to six games. The Hawks, who also took over first place overall from the Humboldt Broncos in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League standings with the pair of victories, were the lone SJHL club to make the list when they were ranked No. 20. The Hawks, who have the league’s best winning percentage at .717 thanks to a stifling defence that has allowed less than two goals per game through their first 30 contests, have just one game this week when they travel to Yorkton to face the equally-as-hot Terriers on Friday. Nipawin was supposed to play the Flin Flon Bombers on Tuesday, but that game was postponed due to the Bombers unable to make the trip when they incurred problems with their bus.
The SJHL continues to have a tight grouping at the top of the overall standings as just two points separates the Hawks, Broncos, Mustangs and Kindersley Klippers. The Battlefords North Stars and Flin Flon are knocking on the door to join that party and Yorkton, which has won its last four to open a three-point lead atop the Viterra Division standings, including a pair against two other divisional frontrunners, are closing in on the upper echelon. The Terriers also hold several games in hand so they could close that gap even further.
The CJHL Top 20 Rankings
(As of Dec. 3)
RK TEAM (LEAGUE) (LAST WEEK)
1. Oakville Blades (OJHL) (3)
2. Thunder Bay North Stars (SIJHL) (2)
3. Brooks Bandits (AJHL) (1)
4. Cobras de Terrebonne (LHJAAAQ) (4)
5. Portage Terriers (MJHL) (10)
6. Yarmouth Jr. ‘A’ Mariners (MHL) (5)
7. Soo Thunderbirds (NOJHL) (8)
8. Summerside Western Capitals (MHL) (7)
9. Bonnyville Pontiacs (AJHL) (11)
10. Swan Valley Stampeders (MJHL) (9)
11. North York Rangers (OJHL) (12)
12. Brockville Braves (CCHL) (6)
13. Carleton Place Canadians (CCHL) (13)
14. Titan de Princeville (LHJAAAQ) (14)
15. Sherwood Park Crusaders (AJHL) (18)
16. Prince George Spruce Kings (BCHL) (15)
17. Chilliwack Chiefs (BCHL) (16)
18. Red Lake Miners (SIJHL) (20)
19. Kirkland Lake Gold Miners (NOJHL) (NR)
20. Nipawin Hawks (SJHL) (NR)
HONOURABLE MENTION: Penticton Vees (BCHL); Melfort Mustangs (SJHL); Rockland Nationals (CCHL); Inouk de Granby (LHJAAAQ); Amherst Ramblers (MHL)