By Dave Leaderhouse
Despite putting together one of the most impressive streaks in recent Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League memory, the Nipawin Hawks appear to be locked into the No. 3 position in the Canadian Junior Hockey League rankings.
The Hawks won twice and lost another in a shootout last week to extend their consecutive point streak to 28 games, but the Carleton Place Canadiens of the Central Canada Hockey League and Okotoks Oilers from the Alberta Junior Hockey League – two teams with 40-plus wins on the season – remain ahead of them in the weekly rankings.
Nipawin, which has just a home game against the Flin Flon Bombers on Tuesday before enjoying a 10-day break, have not lost in regulation time since Nov. 10 when they fell 2-1 to the Melfort Mustangs.
As a result of that run the Hawks have opened up an 11-point lead over Melfort for the Sherwood Division lead and they are also eight points in front of the Global Ag Risk Solutions Division-leading Battlefords North Stars for first place overall.
The Battlefords, despite being surprised 4-3 by the Melville Millionaires on home ice on Saturday, have moved up one spot to sit No. 11 overall while Melfort remains at No. 17 for the third straight week.
The Battlefords have another hectic week as they begin a four-games-in-five-nights homestand with a match against the La Ronge Ice Wolves on Tuesday. The Battlefords will also host the Weyburn Red Wings, La Ronge again and the Notre Dame Hounds on consecutive nights beginning on Thursday.
Melfort, meanwhile, entertains the Yorkton Terriers on Wednesday before taking on Flin Flon in a home-and-home set this weekend.
One other team in the top 20 list with an SJHL connection is the Spruce Grove Saints of the AJHL. The Saints are being led by former Humboldt Bronco and Weyburn Red Wing forward Chris Van Os-Shaw who leads the entire league in scoring with 79 points and 43 goals. Van Os-Shaw was just named the AJHL player of the month for January after collecting 21 points in 11 games and has the Saints on an eight-game winning streak. Spruce Grove is ranked No. 10 overall.
CJHL 2017-18 TOP 20 (As of Feb. 5/18)
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) (9)
5. Thief River Falls Norskies (SIJHL) (4)
6. Ottawa Jr. ‘A’ Senators (CCHL) (5)
7. Toronto Patriots (OJHL) (7)
8. Les Cobras de Terrebonne (LHJAAAQ) (10)
9. Powassan Voodoos (NOJHL) (6)
10. Spruce Grove Saints (AJHL) (11)
11. Battlefords North Stars (SJHL) (12)
12. Brooks Bandits (AJHL) (14)
13. College Français de Longueuil (LHJAAAQ) (13)
14. Penticton Vees (BCHL) (15)
15. Dryden GM Ice Dogs (SIJHL) (8)
16. Fort McMurray Oil Barons (AJHL) (16)
17. Melfort Mustangs (SJHL) (17)
18. Georgetown Raiders (OJHL) (18)
19. Edmundston Blizzard (MHL) (19)
20. Yarmouth Jr. A Mariners (MHL) (HM)
HONOURABLE MENTION: Wenatchee Wild (BCHL); Virden Oil Capitals (MJHL); Aurora Tigers (OJHL); North York Rangers (OJHL); Oakville Blades (OJHL)