The Penticton Vees are rated the No. 2 team in the B.C. Hockey League in the Canadian Junior Hockey League’s pre-season rankings released Thursday.
The Vees, who open the regular season with road games against the Trail Smoke Eaters tonight and Saturday, were listed at No. 8 overall in the first CJHL rankings of the 2019-20 season.
The Prince George Spruce Kings, who won the BCHL and Doyle Cup B.C.-Alberta championships, were ranked No. 2.
The Chilliwack Chiefs just made it into the rankings at No. 20, while the Vernon Vipers received an honourable mention.
The Portage Terriers, who are hosting this year’s Centennial Cup (presented by Tim Hortons), are ranked No. 1.
The Vees, winners of eight straight Interior Division pennants, opened last season at No. 1 in the rankings. The Brooks Bandits eventually took over No. 1 and never gave it up as they went 57-3 in the Alberta league and won the Centennial Cup this past May.
Brooks comes in ranked at No. 3 though they were swept by the Vees 5-2 and 6-3 in two pre-season games in Penticton last weekend and also lost 3-2 in Vernon.
The Oakville Blades, who claimed Ontario league and Dudley-Hewitt crowns last season, are slotted No. 4 while the North Battlefords North Stars (SIJHL) come in at No. 5.
Rounding out the Top 10 are the Carleton Place Canadians (CCHL) 6th; Spruce Grove Saints (AJHL) 7th; the Vees 8th, Nipawin Hawks (SJHL) 9th and the North York Rangers (OJHL) 10th.
A total of 132 CJHL clubs will take to the ice this upcoming season.
The initial CJHL Top 20 rankings for the season will be released on Monday, Sept. 23.