By Dave Leaderhouse
The top three teams in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League have all earned a place on the final Canadian Junior Hockey League Top 20 list of the season.
The Nipawin Hawks lost two out their three outings last week to fall from No. 4 to No. 8 while the Battlefords North Stars won both of its contests to maintain its No. 13 position.
The Melfort Mustangs fell three places, to finish at No. 17, despite earning five of a possible six points including a weekend sweep of the league-leading Hawks.
The Hawks, who have already captured the Sherwood Division title, can nail down first place overall with a win on Tuesday at home against the La Ronge Ice Wolves. Should that not happen then Nipawin will have one final chance on Friday when they host the North Stars on the final night of the regular season.
The Battlefords need to win all three of their final games, and hope to get some help from La Ronge, in order to win a third straight regular-season crown. The Battlefords, who play a home-and-home against the Kindersley Klippers before finishing the season in Nipawin on Friday, are the Global Ag Risk Solutions Division champion and will finish the regular campaign no worse than the No. 2 seed entering the playoffs.
The Mustangs conclude their season on Tuesday when they travel to Flin Flon to take on the Bombers. Melfort has known for a couple weeks they will finish fourth overall and that they will meet the Humboldt Broncos when the quarter-final round begins in 10 days.
FINAL CJHL 2017-18 TOP 20 RANKINGS
RANK TEAM (LEAGUE) (LAST WEEK)
1. Okotoks Oilers (AJHL) (2)
2. Carleton Place Canadians (CCHL) (1)
3. Steinbach Pistons (MJHL) (3)
4. Powassan Voodoos (NOJHL) (7)
5. Spruce Grove Saints (AJHL) (8)
6. Toronto Patriots (OJHL) (6)
7. Ottawa Jr. ‘A’ Senators (CCHL) (5)
8. Nipawin Hawks (SJHL) (4)
9. Brooks Bandits (AJHL) (11)
10. Cobras de Terrebonne (LHJAAAQ) (10)
11. Thief River Falls Norskies (SIJHL) (17)
12. Penticton Vees (BCHL) (12)
13. Battlefords North Stars (SJHL) (13)
14. Dryden GM Ice Dogs (SIJHL) (9)
15. College Français de Longueuil (LHJAAAQ) (15)
16. Fort McMurray Oil Barons (AJHL) (16)
17. Melfort Mustangs (SJHL) (14)
18. North York Rangers (OJHL) (18)
19. Edmundston Blizzard (MHL) (19)
20. Oakville Blades (OJHL) (20)
HONOURABLE MENTION: Vernon Vipers (BCHL); Cochrane Crunch (NOJHL); Aurora Tigers (OJHL); Georgetown Raiders (OJHL); Yarmouth Jr. ‘A’ Mariners (MHL)