By Dave Leaderhouse
The Battlefords North Stars have crept closer to the top of the Canadian Junior Hockey League’s weekly rankings, sitting in second place overall after recording a pair of weekend victories last week.
The defending Canalta Cup champions remain the only team in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League not to have suffered a regulation-time loss as they now have an 8-0-1-0 ledger on the season.
With a handful of games in hand on everyone else in the league, the North Stars begin a busy stretch which will see them try and close the gap on the league-leading Melfort Mustangs and also lay claim to top spot in the Olympic Buildings Division.
Those Mustangs, who began the season with eight straight victories, have now gone winless in their last three and as a result have slipped to No. 17 in the weekly rankings – down from No. 11 seven days ago.
One other team has cracked the top 20 for the first time this season and that is the Weyburn Red Wings, winners of their last six straight. The Red Wings, who occupy the No. 18 position, begin a hectic stretch that will see them play nine of their next 10 games away from the friendly confines of Crescent Point Place.
The Estevan Bruins, who were among the top 20 a week ago, and the Nipawin Hawks, who were closing in on making the list with a strong start to the season, both dropped a pair of weekend games leaving neither with not even an honourable mention, despite still having stellar records.
CJHL 2017-18 TOP 20 (As of Oct. 23/17)
RANK TEAM (LEAGUE) (LAST RANKING)
Top 20 Rankings
1. Thief River Falls Norskies (SIJHL) (1)
2. Battlefords North Stars (SJHL) (3)
3. Okotoks Oilers (AJHL) (4)
4. Fort McMurray Oil Barons (AJHL) (9)
5. Carleton Place Canadians (CCHL) (6)
6. Dryden GM Ice Dogs (SIJHL) (7)
7. Penticton Vees (BCHL) (2)
8. Toronto Patriots (OJHL) (10)
9. Les Cobras de Terrebonne (LHJAAAQ) (5)
10. Powassan Voodoos (NOJHL) (12)
11. College Français de Longueuil (LHJAAAQ) (16)
12. Yarmouth Jr. A Mariners (MHL) (14)
13. Steinbach Pistons (MJHL) (15)
14. Ottawa Jr. ‘A’ Senators (CCHL) (20)
15. Wellington Dukes (OJHL) (18)
16. Georgetown Raiders (OJHL) (16)
17. Melfort Mustangs (SJHL) (11)
18. Weyburn Red Wings (SJHL) (HM)
19. Winkler Flyers (MJHL) (19)
20. Powell River Kings (BCHL) (NR)
Honourable Mention: OCN Blizzard (MJHL); Rayside-Balfour Canadians (NOJHL); Soo Thunderbirds (NOJHL); Oakville Blades (OJHL); South Shore Lumberjacks (MHL)