By Dave Leaderhouse
The Battlefords North Stars have one small blemish on their overall record and that overtime loss to the Estevan Bruins back in September remains the only thing keeping them from being the top team in weekly Canadian Junior Hockey League rankings.
The North Stars, who reeled off a pair of convincing victories over the Yorkton Terriers on the weekend, are now 10-0-1-0 on the season, but the 12-0-0 Thief River Falls Norskies from the Superior International Junior Hockey League retained the No. 1 ranking for the third straight week.
The Weyburn Red Wings, who went 3-1 on a gruelling swing through northern Saskatchewan last week, moved up one spot to No. 17. The Red Wings, who have won nine of their last 10 outings to overtake Estevan for top spot in the Viterra Division standings, still face a stretch where they play another five of their next six games on the road.
Estevan, which was on the top 20 list a couple weeks ago, has fallen back with three straight losses while the Nipawin Hawks, who despite a pair of wins against the red-hot Notre Dame Hounds and Weyburn, failed to get even an honourable mention.
The Melfort Mustangs, who opened the season with eight straight wins and were the first SJHL team in the top 5 this year, have slipped right off the list after having gone 4-3-2-1 in their last 10 games.
Melfort still has the most points in the entire league, but the Red Wings, North Stars and Hawks are all closing in as they continue to make up for several games in hand held due to the schedule structure.
CJHL 2017-18 TOP 20 (As of Oct. 30/17)
RANK TEAM (LEAGUE) (LAST RANKING)
1. Thief River Falls Norskies (SIJHL) (1)
2. Battlefords North Stars (SJHL) (2)
3. Okotoks Oilers (AJHL) (3)
4. Carleton Place Canadians (CCHL) (5)
5. Les Cobras de Terrebonne (LHJAAAQ) (9)
6. Powassan Voodoos (NOJHL) (10)
7. Fort McMurray Oil Barons (AJHL) (4)
8. Yarmouth Jr. A Mariners (MHL) (12)
9. Toronto Patriots (OJHL) (8)
10. Steinbach Pistons (MJHL) (13)
11. Ottawa Jr. ‘A’ Senators (CCHL) (14)
12. Dryden GM Ice Dogs (SIJHL) (6)
13. College Français de Longueuil (LHJAAAQ) (11)
14. Georgetown Raiders (OJHL) (16)
15. Winkler Flyers (MJHL) (19)
16. Trail Smoke Eaters (BCHL) (NR)
17. Weyburn Red Wings (SJHL) (18)
18. Oakville Blades (OJHL) (HM)
19. Penticton Vees (BCHL) (7)
20. Edmundston Blizzard (MHL) (NR)
Honourable Mention: Vernon Vipers (BCHL); Brooks Bandits (AJHL); OCN Blizzard (MJHL); Wellington Dukes (OJHL); South Shore Lumberjacks (MHL)