Kia CHL Top-10 Rankings: Bulldogs enter playoffs as Memorial Cup favourite
Kia CHL Top-10 Rankings – Week 25
1. Hamilton Bulldogs
2. Winnipeg ICE
3. Edmonton Oil Kings
4. Quebec Remparts
5. Saint John Sea Dogs
6. Windsor Spitfires
7. Charlottetown Islanders
8. North Bay Battalion
9. Everett Silvertips
10. Portland Winterhawks
HM. Kamloops Blazers
HM. Sherbrooke Phoenix
HM. Red Deer Rebels
All eyes are on the Hamilton Bulldogs. Tabbed as the favourite to hoist CHL supremacy, the OHL regular season champion enters the postseason following a dominant 2021-22 showing in which the squad set a franchise record of 107 points. Closing out the campaign on an incredible 15-game span in which the Bulldogs collected 29 of 30 points, the club enters the postseason on a high note in its opening-round set beginning Thursday versus Peterborough.
Coming in at No. 6, the Windsor Spitfires will look to return to their winning ways in the postseason where following a recent 13-game win streak the club collected a lone point in its final two outings to close out the 2021-22 regular season. Backed by Eddie Powers Memorial Trophy recipient Wyatt Johnston who headlined the OHL with 124 points in 68 games, the Spitfires are an offensive juggernaut who will put their scoring prowess to the test versus their first round opponent in Sarnia.
Rounding out recognition from the OHL, the North Bay Battalion picked up five of six points in the final week of the regular season, making it nine-straight games in which the club has gone undefeated in regulation. Finishing tops in the OHL’s Central Division and third league wide with a 43-18-3-4 showing and 93 points, the Battalion bring a well-rounded offensive attack led by San Jose Sharks up-and-comer Brandon Coe and should prove to be a handful for their opening round opponent in Ottawa.
Wrapping up the 2021-22 campaign atop the WHL, the Winnipeg ICE were awarded the Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy as the league’s regular season champion and will now look to add to their trophy case as the second-ranked team nationally entering the postseason. Backed by four skaters who scored 70 points or better – including 2022 NHL Draft eligible centres Matthew Savoie and Conor Geekie – the ICE bring a prolific offensive game that is set for its next challenge as it opens the postseason Friday against Prince Albert.
Closing out the regular season with four-straight wins – including a pair in the past week – the Edmonton Oil Kings will now look to keep up their winning ways when they open playoff action Thursday against provincial rival Lethbridge. Bringing first-round selections in all areas of the ice, the Oil Kings are headlined by Arizona Coyotes 2021 first-round selection Dylan Guenther who closed out the campaign sixth in league scoring with 91 points through 59 appearances.
Coming in at No. 9, the Everett Silvertips bring a veteran-laden squad led by overage leading scorer Alex Swetlikoff and 2002-born co-captain Jackson Berezowski who pushed the pace this season in Everett, while Anaheim Ducks draftee Olen Zellweger did so from the back end in leading all WHL rearguards with 78 points in 55 games. The Silvertips will open the postseason against Vancouver – the two squads dueled four times this season, underscored by a 5-2 win by Everett in their most recent meetup.
Returning to the national spotlight, the Portland Winterhawks enter the postseason following a dominant span in which the squad has pieced together six-straight victories, part of a stretch that has seen the Winterhawks find the win column nine times in their past 10 outings. Portland will now look to keep up its winning ways against Prince George, a squad it defeated in all four meetups this season.
In the honourable mention category, the Kamloops Blazers are an impressive squad backed by future NHL stars like Dallas Stars draftee and captain Logan Stankoven as well as netminder and New York Rangers up-and-comer Dylan Garand. Capturing the B.C. Division crown for the third-straight season, the Blazers are set to open the postseason Friday versus Spokane. Elsewhere, the Red Deer Rebels enter the playoffs following their best regular season performance in more than a decade as the squad closed out 2021-22 with a 45-19-2-2 record and 94 points. The Rebels will take on Brandon in the first round.
As regular season action continues in the QMJHL, the Quebec Remparts stand atop the circuit with a record of 46-15-2-0 and 94 points. Surrendering a lone regulation loss in their past 10 outings, the Remparts bring an ability to score in bunches, having lit the lamp four or more times in eight of their last 10 appearances. Leading the offensive charge in Quebec is 2002-born centre Theo Rochette who has registered 89 points in 61 games.
A dominant second half now sees the 2022 Memorial Cup presented by Kia host Saint John Sea Dogs ranked fifth nationally following a stretch in which the squad has won 10 straight and 21 of its last 23 appearances. Bringing no shortage of offense, the Sea Dogs have racked up 42 goals in their last eight outings, headlined by league-leading scorer and New York Islanders prospect William Dufour who has registered 109 points counting 52 goals and 57 assists in 61 games.
Coming in at No. 7, the Charlottetown Islanders found the win column in three of four outings on the week and now trail the Remparts by a lone point for top spot league wide. Headlined by a veteran-laden group that counts forwards Patrick Guay and Xavier Simoneau, the Islanders also present one of the league’s most offensively dynamic blue-liners in Vegas Golden Knights draftee Lukas Cormier who sits second among all QMJHL rearguards with 74 points through 56 appearances.
Earning honourable mention, the Sherbrooke Phoenix continue to impress, headlining the QMJHL’s Western Conference with a record of 41-17-2-2 and 86 points. Picking up two points over the past week that counted a win over Victoriaville, the Phoenix will look to close out the season on a high note with only six games remaining.