Winter Hawks

by: , Klinkhammer

Next: The first of six back-to-back-to-back sets is this weekend. Portland plays in Memorial Coliseum on Friday against Medicine Hat and Saturday versus Everett, then goes to expansion Chilliwack on Sunday.

The Hawks are 3-5-0-0 after going 1-1 last week, winning 3-2 in overtime against Chilliwack, then losing 3-2 at Everett. Defenseman Max Gordichuk leads Portland in scoring with three goals and six assists for nine points.

Tribune player of the week: He began the season with rival Seattle, but Portland fans have to like Rob Klinkhammer now. The 6-3, 210-pound winger scored a 5-on-3 overtime goal last week to beat Chilliwack. He's had six goals in six games since joining the Hawks.

'It's always tough getting traded,' coach Mike Williamson says, 'and he was really quiet here at first. But he's embracing a bit of a leadership role now, encouraging our younger players and even demanding some things from them. And he's enjoying a different role on the ice; he'd basically been used as a checking guy, and we're asking him to provide some offense, as well. We want him to use his speed and get to the net.'

The OT goal was a good example of a player being rewarded for doing that. 'Kyle Bailey made a nice play across the front of the net to Klinks - sort of a set play - and he stopped the puck for a second and then put it in,' Williamson says.

Ready to play: Defenseman Cameron Cepek, injured in a recent fight, is expected back this week. And 16-year-old forward Taylor Jordan should be available. … The Hawks will get their first good look at backup goalie Chris Ward in practice this week and see if he can relieve Kurtis Mucha at all over the weekend.

Toughing it out: The Hawks have a lot of young players, and Williamson admits that this year's team isn't very imposing, physically. 'Frazer McLaren (6-5, 230) is known as one of the toughest guys in the league when the gloves come off; when he hits someone, they definitely feel it,' Williamson says. 'And Bailey, when he's playing his game, is a physical, gritty player. But a lot of guys have to learn that you can be 5-foot-6 and still be tough to play against by using your quickness and finishing checks, even if they're not thunderous hits.'