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Brooks Bandits Keeping Feet on the Ground as CJHL Top 20 Regulars

By Sam Laskaris on February 24, 2017

The Brooks Bandits have celebrated their share of victories this season en route to their Number 1 ranking in the CJHL's weekly Top 20 rankings. (Emily Duncan / Em Rose Photography)

Tons of praise is being heaped upon the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Brooks Bandits.

But it seems that Bandits head coach/general manager Ryan Papaioannou has mixed reactions over the adulation.

The Bandits took over the top spot in the Canadian Junior Hockey League’s weekly Top 20 rankings in late January. And the Brooks squad maintained top billing in ensuing weeks.

“As much as we respect the CJHL and their rankings, we don’t place stock into them,” Papaioannou said. “We live by what we are accomplishing day to day in the tangible world of team development.”

No doubt members of the Bandits, including Papaioannou, keep tabs on the rankings.

“We try not to talk about rankings, especially when we are at the top as it only adds unnecessary pressure on our players,” he said.

Papaioannou, who has been the Bandit’s head coach/GM since October of 2009, believes the CJHL rankings do serve a purpose.

“It’s always nice to be noticed for your hard work and players deserve credit for outstanding accomplishments,” he said. “I think the rankings are a great tool for fans and media to drive conversation and interest in the leagues.”

The CJHL is comprised of 10 Junior A leagues, featuring 132 teams, across the country.

CJHL officials take into account a number of factors when determining their weekly rankings. Besides the obvious win-loss records, they also consider things such as goals-for versus goals-against ratios as well as the overall calibre of leagues squads are competing in.

“I can’t imagine there is an exact science to it,” Papaioannou said. “[It’s] very hard to determine who is Number 1 when there aren’t inter-league games during the regular season.”

The CJHL, however, is not the only national body to have similar rankings.

The Canadian Hockey League, featuring Major Junior franchises, and the American-based NCAA also both have national rankings. And their squads don’t square off against each other until the postseason.

“All in all, it creates those debates between fans of different teams and leagues which is good for the game,” Papaioannou added.

A look at the final CJHL rankings for the 2015-16 campaign prove they are not necessarily an accurate reflection of what will occur in the playoffs.

The top three listed clubs in the final rankings were the Manitoba Junior Hockey League’s Portage Terriers, Penticton Vees of the British Columbia Hockey League and the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.

But none of those teams ended up advancing to the national RBC Cup tournament, which was hosted by the AJHL’s Lloydminster Bobcats.

The Ontario Junior Hockey League’s Trenton Golden Hawks were the highest-ranked team from last year’s final rankings that did advance to the Canadian championship.

The eventual RBC Cup champs ended up being the BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors. The Warriors were not among the Top 20 in the final CJHL rankings but they did receive an honourable mention.

The year before, however, those who compile the rankings were bang on. The Terriers, who hosted and won the 2015 RBC Cup, were atop the final CJHL rankings that season.

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By Sam Laskaris| February 24, 2017
Categories:  Junior
Keywords:  Brooks Bandits

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