The Manitoba Junior Hockey League has been extremely tight this season and now we'll take a quick look at the standings from the top to the bottom.
At the top is the Portage Terriers who will host this year's Centennial Cup from May 9-17 at Stride Place.
1st Place: Portage Terriers: 22-7-1 = 45 points.
They've won seven straight games. They haven't lost since November 19 against Winnipeg. During the streak, the team has scored 32 goals. They are led by Riley Bruce who has 30 points.
Portage plays Waywayseecappo and Winnipeg this weekend. The team's last loss was against Winnipeg last month.
2nd Place: Steinbach Pistons: 21-5-1-1 = 44 points.
They have been arguably the most consistent team all season. They are 21-5-1-1 and that has them just one point behind Portage for first place and they have two games in hand.
Since November 22, Steinbach is 5-1. They are the only team in the league this season that hasn't lost consecutive games in a row.
Kyle Bettens leads the team with 28 points. Carter Loney who has 25 is currently away from the team. He's playing with Team Canada West at the World Jr. A Challenge in Dawson Creek.
3rd Place: Swan Valley Stampeders: 19-10-3 = 41 points.
They now have a new head coach and general manager, but he's not really new. Geoff Grimwood stepped down back on Friday. Barry Wolff is now back and he led the team to the league final last year.
The Stamps are coming off a shocking win their last time out. Trailing 3-1 against Winnipeg yesterday, Swan Valley scored six unanswered goals in the third period to win 7-3. They also scored the last goal in the second period so it was really seven straight goals.
They're 3-0-1 in their last four games and are led by Mattias Dal Monte who has 36 points.
They play three road games this weekend. They're in Selkirk on Friday and Saturday and they play Winnipeg again on Sunday. Barry Wolff is expected to be on the bench for the trio of games.
4th Place: Winkler Flyers: 17-8-2-2 = 38 points.
This is where the logjam begins. Winkler has the same amount of points as Waywayseecappo, but they have four games in hand so they're currently in fourth. The Flyers are 17-8-2-2, but they're certainly going in the wrong direction.
Winkler has just two points in their last four games. They lost in overtime against Dauphin twice. Winkler will host Dauphin this weekend for a pair of games.
The Flyers have received some help offensively. They welcomed back Eric Fawkes from the NAHL. He led the team last year with 38 points.
Winkler plays Waywayseecappo on Sunday after the two dates with Dauphin.
5th Place: Waywayseecappo Wolverines: 17-12-2-2 = 38 points.
They have played more games than any other team in the MJHL and they have a 17-12-2-2 record to show for it.
They're coming off a disappointing loss against Neepawa over the weekend and their record in their last six games dropped to 2-3-0-1 in the process.
Waywayseecappo plays four more games this week including a tilt with Dauphin on Tuesday at Credit Union Place. They will also play Dauphin on December 21 before the Christmas break. Waywayseecappo then welcomes Dauphin on January 5 in their first game after the break.
Jaymes Knee leads the team with 30 points while Conrad Phillips is three behind in second.
6th Place: Dauphin Kings: 16-10-3-2 = 37 points.
Without a doubt, Dauphin is the hottest team in the MJHL as they've won eight straight games. They haven't suffered defeat since November 17. After a 1-5-0-1 start, the Kings are now 16-10-3-2.
Dauphin is now just four points behind Swan Valley for third place and they'll have a chance to gain some ground this week. With a game against Waywayseecappo tomorrow and a pair of games against Winkler on the weekend, the team can earn a maximum of six points.
The Kings have scored the second-most goals in the league at 123. 17 of those have come off the stick of Nakodan Greyeyes and he also leads the league with 50 points.
Dauphin's first line has combined for 121 points. Cole DeKoninck also leads all defencemen with 35 points.
In net, Mattias Smith hasn't lost since November 15. He's fourth in the league with 11 wins and only Matt Lenz has fewer losses than him.
7th Place: Virden Oil Capitals: 15-13-2-2 = 34 points.
With their one point against Dauphin on Sunday, the Oil Caps' are just three points behind Dauphin in the standings. With the recent acquisition of Ethan Peterson, Virden certainly improved.
They also have Kolten Kanaski who is second in league scoring with 43 points.
Virden plays just two games this week on Thursday and Friday. They come against Waywayseecappo and Virden, respectively.
The Oil Capitals bring a mixed bag in their last five games as they're 2-2-1. They have the most goals in the league with 127.
8th Place: Selkirk Steelers: 15-15-2 = 32 points.
They're certainly not doing themselves any favours at all. Selkirk is only four points ahead of Winnipeg for the final playoff spot. Since November 16, Selkirk has gone 1-8. They have also given up 15 goals in their last two games.
Their schedule is extremely tough heading into the Christmas break. They play Swan Valley twice this weekend and Steinbach as well. They finish 2019 in Dauphin as they play the Kings again. Selkirk has given up 20 goals in Dauphin this season.
The next time Selkirk plays an opponent that is below them in the standings is on January 8 when they're in Neepawa.
9th Place: Winnipeg Blues: 13-16-2 = 28 points.
This past weekend ruined Winnipeg's hot streak. Coming into the weekend, they were winners of four straight. They then lost to Dauphin on Friday in overtime; however, they did get a point in that game.
Yesterday, they gave up seven straight goals in a 7-3 loss against the Swan Valley Stampeders.
A youthful and not experienced group has shown at times, but they're still just four points back of a playoff spot. They play six games before Christmas and each opponent is higher than them in the standings.
If they can rise to the challenge, Selkirk seems to be in a free fall, so the Blues have an opportunity to perhaps even get in a playoff spot leading into 2020.
10th Place: OCN Blizzard: 10-19-2 = 22 points.
Their head coach and general manager was relieved of his duties last week and the team has struggled to get anything going as of late. OCN hasn't won a game since November 17 and they've been giving up a ton of goals lately.
In their seven-game skid, OCN has given up 33 goals. They've also been shut out twice in that span.
The Blizzard has the second-fewest goals in the league at 81. They have given up 117 and that's the fourth most. That -36 ratio is the second-worst in the MJHL.
They do, however, have a good chance to build some momentum this weekend. They'll welcome Neepawa to town for a pair of games on Friday and Saturday.
11th Place: Neepawa Natives: 5-24-1-1 = 12 points.
They have shown they can play good hockey. They beat Waywayseecappo over the weekend and they've beaten Dauphin twice this year. The biggest thing is consistency and there hasn't been a ton of it this season.
With just five wins, Neepawa is 20 points back of a playoff spot. They still have 58 possible points throughout the remainder of the season, so you can't count them out yet, but they'll have to go on quite the tear to even have a chance.
Dating back to November 29, Neepawa is 2-1-1. They have also beaten Swan Valley this season.
Before Christmas, they play a home-and-home with Virden and they also play two games this weekend on the road as mentioned above against OCN. They will also battle the Steinbach Pistons.
Neepawa also had its highest attended game in that win against Waywayseecappo. 560 fans packed the Yellowhead Centre and cheered their team to victory. Eli Lieffers leads the Neepawa attack with 31 points. Ste. Rose's Brad Marshall has 12 points this year.