The Canadian Hockey League released its pre-season BMO CHL MasterCard Top 10 Rankings today and have the Sea Dogs ranked No. 1 overall. Saint John was ranked first in the last year’s final ranking en route to winning their first national championship.
“The defending QMJHL and MasterCard Memorial Cup Champions the Saint John Sea Dogs open the season in top spot after spending an incredible 23 weeks in the rankings in each of the past two seasons,” explains the CHL press release. “The Sea Dogs led the CHL with three players selected in the first round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft including Jonathan Huberdeau selected third overall by the Florida Panthers, Nathan Beaulieu selected 17th overall by the Montreal Canadiens, and Zack Phillips selected 28th overall by the Minnesota Wild.”
In last year’s pre-season Top 10 the Sea Dogs were ranked second behind the Memorial Cup hosting Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors – the team Saint John would end up beating in the tournament final.
The year’s Memorial Cup hosts – the Shawinigan Cataractes – find themselves ranked fourth to start the year. Other Quebec Major Junior Hockey League teams in the Top 10 include the Quebec Remparts at No. 6 and the Victoriaville Tigres at No. 10.
The weekly rankings of the CHL’s Top 10 teams are selected by a panel of National Hockey League scouts.
Here are the BMO CHL MasterCard Top 10 Rankings for week one:
1. Saint John Sea Dogs
2. Niagara IceDogs
3. Portland Winterhawks
4. Shawinigan Cataractes
5. Plymouth Whalers
6. Quebec Remparts
7. Kelowna Rockets
8. Sarnia Sting
9. Red Deer Rebels
10. Victoriaville Tigres
Moose Jaw Warriors
Week two of the rankings won’t be issued until Wednesday, September 28, 2011.
The CHL season begins tomorrow night when the Sea Dogs host the Moncton Wildcats at 7pm at Harbour Station.