As they have been for most of the season, the Battlefords North Stars are near the middle of the Canadian Junior Hockey League's top 20 weekly rankings.
This week they moved up one spot from 13th to 12th, after a 6-5 overtime loss to the Melfort Mustangs Wednesday and a 6-0 win over the Nipawin Hawks Friday.
There are teams from various different leagues ahead of the North Stars, with a number of the usual suspects. The Penticton Vees, as they have been for the past decade it seems, are steamrolling their opponents as they've skated to a 41-6-0-1 record so far this year. They're in second place behind the Soo Thunderbirds, who are 36-4-1. I do believe Penticton should be above Soo because, well, the BCHL is a better hockey league than the NOJHL.
The North Stars ranking in the top 20 has been relatively consistent all season, having bounced between 12th and 15th for the last month and a half.
An interesting opportunity for the North Stars presents itself as they have 10 games left on the schedule. The North Stars have a relatively easy schedule down the stretch. They face Notre Dame and Melville once and Humboldt, Kindersley, Yorkton and Flin Flon twice.
The biggest "obstacle" in that group is Flin Flon, who the North Stars are 0-3-1-0 against this season. Against the other five teams? A combined 20-0-0-1 with the lone blemish a shootout loss to the Hounds back on October 24.
It's not out of the realm of possibility for the North Stars to go 8-2 down the stretch, possibly even better if they can slay the dragon that is the Flin Flon Bombers.
Eight more wins would give the North Stars 41 on the season, which would tie them for the second most in franchise history with the 2011-12 season. The record is 44 set in the 1995-96 season.
Any team can beat any team on any given night and there are no easy games in the SJHL, but the North Stars have to be feeling pretty good about their stretch drive leading into the playoffs.
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