December 7, 2017 - Western Hockey League (WHL)
Toronto, ON - The Canadian Hockey League today announced the week 12 edition of the CHL Top-10 Rankings for the 2017-18 season. The weekly rankings of the CHL's Top-10 teams are selected by a panel of National Hockey League scouts.
The Moose Jaw Warriors reclaimed the second spot in the rankings after a small dip last week. With their first three December games decided by a single goal each time, the Warriors have come out victorious in two of them, earning five of a possible six points. Friday, they lost a 7-6 overtime game to the Swift Current Broncos, but rebounded to win a 3-2 decision on the road against the Broncos a day later. Tuesday, the Warriors and Central Division-leading Medicine Hat Tigers played to a 5-4 final, with Brayden Burke scoring the game-winning goal with 24 seconds to go in the third period.
With the duo of Burke and Jayden Halbgewachs, the Warriors have steadily held control of the fierce East Division, holding onto a four-point lead entering play Wednesday. Burke sits fourth in WHL scoring with 53 points (13G-40A) in 28 games. Halbgewachs sits tied for second in the WHL for goals with 27 through 29 games. His 49 points (27G-22A) has him in sole possession of fifth place in WHL scoring. The Warriors are back in action Thursday, December 7 (7:00 p.m. MST) when they begin a three-game road trip through Alberta against the Edmonton Oil Kings at Rogers Place. This is the Warriors' 10th straight week on the CHL Top 10 charts.
Switching spots with the Warriors were the Portland Winterhawks, who dropped down to the fourth spot after going 1-2 over the week, but still maintaining their lead in the U.S. Division. Wednesday, they defeated the Tigers by a 5-2 score to finish their road trip of the Central Division with a 6-0-0-1 record, but followed it up with a 4-0 loss at home to the Saskatoon Blades, followed by a 5-4 road defeat at the hands of the Vancouver Giants. With November WHL Player of the Month Cody Glass (Vegas Golden Knights), the Winterhawks had a dominant November, going 11-0-0-1. Glass is tied for sixth in WHL scoring with 48 points (20G-28A) in 27 games, with 17 multi-point games and four multi-goal games to go along with that. The Winterhawks remained the only WHL team to consistently appear in the CHL Top 10 Rankings through every week this season.
The Winterhawks will have an immediate chance to get back into the win column, staying on the road to face the Everett Silvertips Wednesday, December 6 (7:05 p.m. PST) in another fierce U.S. Division rivalry game.
Holding tight for another week in the sixth spot were the Swift Current Broncos, who won a pair of games in overtime while also suffering a home defeat at the hands of the Moose Jaw Warriors. Friday, the Broncos came out ahead in the aforementioned 7-6 overtime battle against the Warriors, but dropped a 3-2 result the following night at home. Tuesday, the Broncos hosted the Prince Albert Raiders, emerging with a 5-4 victory in overtime. WHL scoring leader Aleksi Heponiemi (Florida Panthers) recorded another three points to give him 69 (19G-50A) in just 28 games. Heponiemi is also on a torrid offensive streak of points in 20 straight games. He has multi-point efforts in 16 of those games, giving him 21 on the season overall. This week marks the ninth straight week the Broncos have appeared in the CHL Top 10 Rankings. The Broncos are set to begin a three-game road trip through Albert Friday, December 8 (7:00 p.m. MST) when they challenge the Calgary Hitmen.
Rising up the charts this week are another East Division contender in the Brandon Wheat Kings. On their second journey of the season through Alberta, the Wheat Kings once again were perfect, scoring a 3-1 win against the Oil Kings, downing the Lethbridge Hurricanes 5-1 and then topping the Tigers 5-4 in overtime. Both Logan Thompson and Dylan Myskiw were at the top of their games, combining to stop 105 of 111 shots over the three games. Having fought with the 2018 Mastercard Memorial Cup host Regina Pats for the third spot in the tight East Division, the Wheat Kings are starting to inch closer to the division leaders, sitting three points behind the Broncos for second and seven points behind the division-leading Warriors. This is the third straight week the Wheat Kings have found themselves in the CHL Top 10 Rankings.
The next chance for the Wheat Kings to gain ground in the standings will come Wednesday, December 6 (7:00 p.m. CST) as they play host to the Pats to begin a five-game home stand.
The Kelowna Rockets earned one of three honourable mentions in this week's winning all three of their games. The team will face its fair share of challenges over the next few weeks though, with the trio of Kole Lind (Vancouver Canucks), Dillon Dube (Calgary Flames) and Cal Foot (Tampa Bay Lightning) expected to compete for starting spots on Canada's national junior men's hockey team, earning invites Wednesday to the selection camp.
The Rockets begin a six-game road trip Friday, December 8 (7:00 p.m. CST) in WHL On Access action as they do battle with the Regina Pats at the Brandt Centre.