• Chris Larson

PJHL Team Rankings 2020/2021 Season | Pacific Junior Hockey League Review

Updated: Sep 9, 2020

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As Junior B teams have begun summer skates, we wanted to take a look at the PJHL and what they will be bringing to the table for the 2020/21 season. In the world of Covid, there is still some uncertainty of when the season will start or how the season will play out but we’re here to give our ‘way too early’ predictions on each team's rankings for this season.

13. Surrey Knights

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I think we all saw this coming. All jokes aside, we’re not here to just bash on the Knights. They will be following a 1 win season with hopefully a few more wins than one. The reality is that they will be at the bottom of the league almost certainly. Some may argue that Chilliwack being an expansion team may be worse but we think that won’t be true. Like White Rock, Chilliwack has been able to attract players which Surrey has not been able to do. Despite moving into the very new North Surrey Sport and Ice Complex, their record and reputation has prevented Surrey from being a quality destination for Jr.B hockey. Little by little, we hope they can eventually turn things around and be a competitive team in the PJHL. Now looking at their roster, their leading scorer is aging out and to be competitive they definitely need their leading scoring to be over 20 points and also have a lot of secondary scoring behind that. Unless the Knights can attract new signing and find some hidden gems, it will just be the same story for them as it has since they have moved to Surrey from Langley.

12. Port Moody Panthers

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The Panthers, well not being as bad as the Knights, did not have a very good 2019/20 season. 11 wins in a 44 game season won’t get things done. Fortunately for the club out of Port Moody, things should be a little better this season, but not that much. Like many other teams in the league, they do not have a ton of players aging out. This means that the players coming back will get better with age and the chemistry should be better after playing a year together. The Panthers leading scorer, Jayson Beauregard should produce even better than his 32 point season. The rest of the team should follow along with solid seasons but not enough to be better than second-last in the league. A big hole for them is in net, they ran through what felt like a million goalies. If they are able to fill that gap then there is a chance they can squeak into the playoffs but we doubt it. To go from a 11 win team to a playoff team is usually unlikely without any big signing and trades and the Panthers haven’t really made any so they stand in 12th in our rankings.

11. Abbotsford Pilots

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The Abbotsford Pilots also had a disappointing season. A typically successful franchise saw a decline in the win department which only saw 16 wins. Things don’t look any better as their leading scorer Mason Smith will be moving on to the SJHL. Their team will most likely look the same as they do not have many players aging out as well. As for major signings or trades, they have yet to do so as well. We wanna give Abbostford a fair shake but this team was not very good last year and with players getting older they hope that will result in more wins but we can’t see that happening. I think instead of competing for a playoff spot, they will be competing to not be second last in the league.

10. Chilliwack Jets

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Let’s talk about Chilliwack. We’ll be the first to say that players who don’t live in the Fraser Valley are not happy about expansion but we’ll save this for another time. We can’t look at their past season for obvious reasons but we can look at their signings. From our evaluation of their players and where they have played before as well as how successful their past seasons have been, Chilliwack is creating a very hard nosed team that will be defensively sound and will be running guys through the wall. The Jets will have no mercy and they will have many bruisers. While the majority of their team will be in PJHL for the first time, they do not lack hockey experience. Their inaugural captain, Dylan Devers should be their top point producer while still being a strong physical presence. The Jets have also made some signings from players who have spent some time in the SJHL and MJHL so those players will be ready to play hard. But, it is their first season in the league and in such a weird time, it could be tough to bring a team together well. The scouting of these players can be limited but I’m sure the Jets have faith in their recruits. Just like the Whalers in their first season, they will see success but I think they will be falling short of the playoffs (given that only 8 teams make it). Nonetheless, it will be exciting to see a new team in PJHL and we hope they add to the competitiveness of the league.

9. Ridge Meadows Flames

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The Flames enjoyed a decently successful season. They were able to have a winning season and make the playoffs in the weaker Harold Brittain Conference. For this season, the Flames will be taking a hit as they have 7 players aging out. This includes 4 who were a part of the top 7 in scoring. Thankfully for them, Nicholas Amsler, Jayden Genberg and Ryan Denney will be returning for the squad and scoring should not be an issue for them. As for goaltending, Elliot Marshall will be manning the helm and he will be a x-factor for the Flames. On D, the team isn’t looking particularly strong but also not too weak. Our prediction for the Flames is that they will fall around the same place they did last year and they will barely make the playoffs. The Jets should give them a run for their money in that spot but at the end of the day, Ridge Meadows will have a playoff team.

8. White Rock Whalers

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Now that there is a new expansion team in the mix, the White Rock based team is no longer the newest franchise. With their first playoff experience under their belt, more success should be coming for the Whalers. Well, yes and no. For one thing, their first round exit was against the mighty Wolf Pack which probably wasn’t too much fun. To be fair, the Whalers did put up a good fight against such a strong team. I think some of it had to do with playing in the small barn which is Centennial Arena but that’s also something that will be discussed some other day. Another tough break for the Whalers is their top two leading scorers are leaving, one to the BCHL and the other because of age. So not great but here’s the good news. The Whalers have a fairly young team and with more experience their team will only get better. But other than maybe a playoff appearance, I don’t see too much potential that this team will go beyond the first round. They would have to make a big trade or signing to change our minds. One thing I can say, the game is almost always up for grabs at Centennial so you know what, it gives them a better chance every time they play there. In a tougher Tom Shaw Conference they can sneak the last spot or potentially crossover but that’s about it.

7. Aldergrove Kodiaks

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The Kodiaks just try too damn hard. This should be a joke but it’s really not. This team had some skill but most of their success came from trying so hard. Let’s get back on track. The Kodiaks saw success in both the regular season and the playoffs. Making it to the league finals without a player breaking a point per game is pretty hard to do. That Kodiaks squad was a very experienced team which doesn’t help them this year. In their top 5 for scoring, 4 of them will be aging out. Aldergrove’s staff will have to be looking for a lot of replacements to their squad. With that being said, their goalie tandem of Dylan Black and Jonas Hamrin should be returning which is good news as good young goalies are hard to come by. You might be wondering why we have them ranked so high despite losing many veterans. The answer is in the first sentence of this paragraph. This team will find guys that just try way too hard and they're gonna win games based on that. That’s the only reason.

6. Mission City Outlaws

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Here’s another great place to travel to, especially on a Saturday night. Sorry, sorry, this is about hockey and not how it is a waste of time to go to Mission, the greatest city in B.C. You know what, their team will be good so at least for some teams, they will get their ass kicked and then realize they have to go home from Mission. Anyways, the Outlaws enjoyed a fun season which saw a second round exit to the Aldergrove Kodiaks. Pretty good showing for a team that was decent in the regular season. The good news for them is that they have the majority of their team coming back (considering there are no trades or additional signings). This is typically a good sign in the PJHL even if the team is located in Mission. Goaltending may be a little shaky for them but it should get the job done as long as everyone else in front gets the job done. The Outlaws should be ready for a very successful 2020/21 season and with no additional issues, they will be competing with the top teams in this league.

5. Grandview Steelers

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The Grandview Steelers usually have good teams and this season won’t be an exception. Last season saw them pull out a really good regular season and made it to the second-round before getting defeated by the North Van Wolf Pack. For a team without a lot of high powered scoring, they certainly work their bag off to win a lot of games. Captain Michael Martino will most likely be coming back to the team and leading them alongside Jack Hamilton who will be carrying the load for the team. One huge hole that might hurt them a lot is the aging out of goalie Cale Dolan. He has been huge for them and they hope that Emmet Larson can fill those shoes. If he’s able to do that then the Steelers will be just fine. They won’t be competing for first place but they will certainly be in the mix. Their team has some positions that need to be filled but they should be able to do with the squad they have.

4. Langley Trappers

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The Trappers are coming off a very good regular season which saw them finish 3rd in the league overall. They saw a disappointing end to their season when they fell to the Mission Outlaws in the First round. For this upcoming year, the Trappers are set to have a big year. (For the top 4 teams, it honestly could be anyone of these teams who could take 1st place). They virtually had no 99’s from last year so all their players who lead in scoring will be returning for another year. They play a fast and skilled game which shows in their point totals as well as their win total. We will be seeing a lot of success out of this squad with guys just getting older. The one question I have is will the team be getting younger? The Trappers are sort of a farm team for the BCHL’s Riverman. Not many players move on but some end up doing so. My two concerns would be that 1, they would be looking to replace certain players to make room for Riverman prospects and 2, some of the leading scorers who are going into their final junior year, may be looking to go to Delta to try and win a championship. But those things are uncertain. What we do know is they had a strong team last year and they will carry this into the new season.

3. Richmond Sockeyes

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The Sockeyes, like the Trappers, are coming off a very good regular season but a very disappointing first round exit to the lower seed Grandview Steelers. After finishing 2nd in the league overall, the Sockeyes look to replicate similar success in the regular season and hopefully bring that play into the playoffs. When taking a look at their point leaders from last season, 3 of their top 5 will be aging out. The good news is that the other two are 2001 born which sets them up for success in the next couple of years. Offensively, the Sockeyes seem to be set. If they do not have a lot of players moving on to the next level, they should be set on for success on the offensive end. Defensively, they have a fairly young d-core. Ryan Watson, who led in scoring for defensemen for the club is great for them but also young, being a 2002 born player. In net, Brady Euraby was their goalie after getting traded from the Ice Hawks. He is a Vancouver Giants prospect and we will have to wait to see what holds for the WHL which will influence his decision on coming back to the Sockeyes. With all this in mind, the Sockeyes seem to be bringing back a lot of the same players and with the addition of former Vancouver Giant, Aidan Barfoot, the Sockeyes are poised for another great season. If their key contributors can have an even better season from the one before, they will also be in the mix for the first place title.

2. North Van Wolf Pack

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The Wolf Pack obviously had an exceptional season last year. Going 40-4 is no easy task but with insane offensive firepower and strong defense, it was no surprise that they dominated the league and were on their way to winning it all. We think that if the season never stopped, The Wolf Pack would’ve won the PJHL for sure and also the Cyclone Taylor Cup but we’ll never know now. Now onto this year. With their top two scorers aging out, the offensive load will have to be taken on by the 2000 born players and given how some have averaged over a point per game, they should very well be able to do so. In net and on D raise some questions. Bradley Cooper (goalie), who helped them towards that 40-4 record, has aged out and their other exceptional goalie, Eric Clark, is moving to the SJHL so they need to fill that gap. On D, they are losing a lot as 5 of their D-men were 99’s. So unless they make some signings or trades for older defensemen, they could be a weaker team defensively. Looking at their squad all together, they will score a lot of goals. Ryan Stack is a very early front-runner for league MVP for us and he will certainly be making noise. With that being said, they will be allowing a lot of goals as well so I can see many of their matchups being very high scoring affairs. At the end of the day, they will remain very competitive in this league and very well be competing for the top spot in the PJHL.

1. Delta Ice Hawks

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The Ice Hawks have been through a season that didn’t go as planned. As many vets aged out from the year before, the young Ice Hawks squad wasn’t able to pull out a playoff appearance. This year is set to change for them. A big reason for the potential turnaround is the fact that they may be hosting the Cyclone Taylor Cup. I say ‘may’ because despite winning the sweepstakes for hosting this year, the 100 Mile Wrangers of the KIJHL were unable to host this year due to Covid so they might still be given that opportunity to do so. Even then, B.C Hockey is probably unsure that the B.C Jr.B Championship will happen this year. If they do end up hosting the tournament, we have the Delta Ice Hawks slotted at number 1 in our rankings. Coach Steve Robinson will certainly have his hands full with many potential players wanting to sign or get traded to the host team in the hopes of winning a Cyclone Taylor Cup. From our understanding, the Ice Hawks have pretty much told their players that no one is guaranteed back on the team which makes room for a lot of new players who are aging out to get their last crack at the ship. Looking at their rosters, so far it will be 20 year-old players Marcus Pantazis and Truman Chiu who will be carrying the offensive load for the Hawks. In net, Jordy Engleson will be manning the pipes and it’s known around the league that he is the anchor for the squad and also our front-runner for goalie of the year. The question for us will be on defense. With a fairly young defensive core, they will be looking in to bring some vets to bring some help. If they are able to do so, they should have no problem locking up the number 1 spot in the league.

Stay tuned for more rankings as the season approaches. We will be looking at the teams again as more signings and trades are made. We will also be coming out with player rankings in the next little while and we have some interviews lined up that we are excited to share with you guys. Follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to keep up to date with PJHL rankings.