By Dave Leaderhouse
It takes a consistent stretch of hockey to get into the Canadian Junior Hockey League’s weekly Top 20 rankings so to no one’s surprise the Humboldt Broncos and Melfort Mustangs are the lone Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League teams to crack that list this week.
The Broncos have reeled off six straight victories, and are 8-1-1-0 in their last 10, to lay claim to top spot in both the Global Ag Risk Solutions Division and overall point’s race. Humboldt is now six points ahead of the Battlefords North Stars in the divisional race and three points clear of Melfort for first place overall. For their efforts, the Broncos move up two spots to be ranked No. 18 in Canada, one spot ahead of the Mustangs, who enter the list this week after getting an honourable mention seven days ago.
Melfort now has the longest winning streak of any SJHL team this season having won seven straight. What makes their run even more impressive is that they have allowed just eight goals in that seven-game span. With the lengthy streak Melfort is now alone at the top of the Sherwood Division standings, three points ahead of the Flin Flon Bombers who get an honourable mention this time around after climbing as high as No. 18 last week.
The Broncos and Mustangs were obviously perfect last week winning two and four games, respectively, while Flin Flon had a five-game winning streak snapped in the first outing of a doubleheader in the Battlefords on the weekend. The Bombers rebounded with a win in the finale to start a new streak and begin their quest to reclaim top spot in the highly-competitive Sherwood Division.
Just percentage points separate the Broncos, Mustangs and Bombers as Flin Flon holds games in hand on both teams they are chasing in the overall point’s race and Melfort also has a pair of games in hand on Humboldt meaning they could overtake them if they were successful in putting up points when they are played.
As has been the case all season, no SJHL team is likely to make a run at the top spot in the national poll as parity has settled in in a big way. Just seven points separate the top six teams and the next three after that group are separated by just two points. The Yorkton Terriers, who trail the Estevan Bruins by just two points in the Viterra Division, could really make things interesting as they have as many as six games in hand on some teams in front of them so should they get on a roll they could very well be a part of the party that is competing for a coveted Top 6 position leading up to the playoffs.
The CJHL Top 20 Rankings
(As of Nov. 19)
RK TEAM (LEAGUE) (LAST WEEK)
1. Brooks Bandits (AJHL) (1)
2. Oakville Blades (OJHL) (2)
3. Thunder Bay North Stars (SIJHL) (5)
4. Cobras de Terrebonne (LHJAAAQ) (6)
5. Sherwood Park Crusaders (AJHL) (8)
6. Brockville Braves (CCHL) (3)
7. Summerside Western Capitals (MHL) (7)
8. Yarmouth Jr. ‘A’ Mariners (MHL) (9)
9. North York Rangers (OJHL) (4)
10. Portage Terriers (MJHL) (12)
11. Swan Valley Stampeders (MJHL) (10)
12. Soo Thunderbirds (NOJHL) (15)
13. Carleton Place Canadians (CCHL) (11)
14. Titan de Princeville (LHJAAAQ) (13)
15. Chilliwack Chiefs (BCHL) (16)
16. Hawkesbury Hawks (CCHL) (14)
17. Bonnyville Pontiacs (AJHL) (17)
18. Humboldt Broncos (SJHL) (20)
19. Melfort Mustangs (SJHL) (HM)
20. Prince George Spruce Kings (BCHL) (NR)
HONOURABLE MENTION: Spruce Grove Saints (AJHL); Flin Flon Bombers (SJHL); Red Lake Miners (SIJHL); Powassan Voodoos (NOJHL); Amherst Ramblers (MHL)