By Dave Leaderhouse
The Nipawin Hawks are the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League’s hottest team with points in their last eight games and as a reward for that recent success they have become the latest SJHL team to crack the Canadian Junior Hockey League’s weekly Top 20 list.
The Hawks, who opened the past seven days with a convincing 10-1 triumph over the Weyburn Red Wings and then followed that up with an overtime victory in Melfort against the Mustangs before finishing the week with an overtime loss to the Flin Flon Bombers, enter the list for the first time at No. 16.
That ranking is one behind the Melfort Mustangs, who Nipawin is chasing for both the Sherwood Division and overall point’s lead. The Mustangs, who rebounded from their loss to the Hawks with a 4-3 decision over Weyburn the following night, are three points clear of the Hawks in both races.
The Battlefords North Stars continue to have the league’s best winning percentage despite dropping their last two games on a quick southern swing on the weekend. The North Stars fall from sixth to ninth in the weekly rankings as a result of the fruitless trip, but with as many as four games in hand on those ahead of them in the standings, they are still in a position to challenge for a third straight regular-season crown.
The Battlefords are one point back of the Notre Dame Hounds for the Olympic Buildings Division lead and are four points in arrears of the Mustangs for first overall, but that gap has closed considerably as they continue to make up games after a light schedule to start the season.
CJHL 2017-18 TOP 20 (As of Dec.4/17)
RANK TEAM (LEAGUE) (LAST RANKING)
1. Carleton Place Canadians (CCHL) (1)
2. Thief River Falls Norskies (SIJHL) (2)
3. Les Cobras de Terrebonne (LHJAAAQ) (4)
4. Okotoks Oilers (AJHL) (3)
5. Ottawa Jr. ‘A’ Senators (CCHL) (7)
6. Fort McMurray Oil Barons (AJHL) (9)
7. Powassan Voodoos (NOJHL) (5)
8. Dryden GM Ice Dogs (SIJHL) (8)
9. Battlefords North Stars (SJHL) (6)
10. College Français de Longueuil (LHJAAAQ) (11)
11. Toronto Patriots (OJHL) (15)
12. Penticton Vees (BCHL) (HM)
13. Wellington Dukes (OJHL) (HM)
14. Steinbach Pistons (MJHL) (16)
15. Melfort Mustangs (SJHL) (14)
16. Nipawin Hawks (SJHL) (HM)
17. Edmundston Blizzard (MHL) (20)
18. Spruce Grove Saints (AJHL) (13)
19. Vernon Vipers (BCHL (18)
20. Oakville Blades (OJHL) (HM)
Honourable Mention: Whitecourt Wolverines (AJHL); Winkler Flyers (MJHL); Soo Thunderbirds (NOJHL); North York Rangers (OJHL); South Shore Lumberjacks (MHL)
ABOUT THE CJHL RANKINGS
Selected by an independent scouting service, the rankings are based upon a variety of factors, including winning percentage; win-loss record; point totals; goals-for versus goals-against ratio, etc., and the league they compete in.