The Battlefords North Stars of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League are once again the top ranked team in the country. The Canadian Junior Hockey League revealed its latest rankings on Monday.
The North Stars are the only team in the country at the Jr. A level that has yet to taste defeat in regulation. They're currently on a 21 game point streak to start the season as they're 18-0-2-1. They also have the top three scorers in the league. Holden Doell has 33 points as does Jake Southgate while Kian Bell has 32. Josh Kotai is 13-0-2-1 in net with a sparkling 1.88 goals-against average to go along with a .942 save percentage.
In the Manitoba Junior Hockey League; meanwhile, Portage is ranked third nationally, Steinbach is seventh and Winkler is an honourable mention.
League champions from coast-to-coast will head to Stride Place in Portage for the Centennial Cup in early May. The Terriers will play host to the event which means one other team from the MJHL will also earn the right to compete in the event.
At 16-4 heading into the MJHL Top Prospects Showcase, Portage has been very good on special teams this year. Racking up an astonishing 500 penalty minutes -- 90 more than any other team in the league -- the Terriers are 85.6% on the penalty kill. The team's power play has also scored 23 goals and is 22.5%. There is no denying that this Portage team is solid but there are certainly some holes.
They lost on Sunday night when they gave up six goals in a 6-4 defeat against Swan Valley. Portage has lost two of their five games in November and in those losses, they have allowed 12 goals against. They also allowed six goals against Niverville back on October 19. The team did beat Steinbach on Friday night.
There is no reason to believe that Portage won't be contending for a league title this year because they likely will but when it comes to past national championship hosts, the Terriers don't appear to be on the same level. For instance, Estevan won 43 games last year and lost just 10 in regulation as they hosted the Centennial Cup. They remain in a tie for first place overall alongside the Steinbach Pistons.
They have the best line in the league, without a doubt. Davis Fry leads the league with 32 points, Ty Paisley has 29 and Travis Hensrud has 28. No other line in the league has come even close to producing as much as that trio.
Six other players have at least 11 points so the team has some solid depth and they very rarely lose games on home ice as they're 10-1 at the T.G. Smith Centre this season. Heading into the league's showcase fresh off a 6-2 win against the Freeze, Steinbach has scored in bundles this year, which is no surprise with their first line and overall depth.
In five November games, the team has scored 21 times. The team has a league-best 26.7% on the man advantage and their penalty kill is sitting at 87.8% and it's the best in the league. The countdown to the trade deadline on January 10 continues and that's when Steinbach will likely add some more firepower to their roster just like they did last season, watch out for the Pistons.
The team has one of the top defenders in the league as Trent Sambrook pairs his smooth skating with his tenacity and great offensive upside. He is also on the ice more than any other player but he makes it work himself.
Sitting just five points back of first place in the West Division, Winkler is coming off a 3-2 overtime loss against Dauphin on Sunday and overall, the team has somewhat trended downward as of late. The team has lost four of their last six games, two of which came in overtime.
Featuring former Parkland Ranger all-star Jayce Legaarden, who has 16 points, the Flyers will play a home-and-home with the Waywayseecappo Wolverines this weekend, a few days after sending a solid cast of players to the league's showcase. They lost in the league semifinal against Dauphin last year and with a solid group of returning players paired with some new players to the organization, Winkler is in a good spot.
They also statistically have one of the the best goalies in the league. Aidan Comeau is 5-1-2 with a .933 save percentage and a 1.78 goals-against average.