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Winter Hawks

by: , KLINKHAMMER

Coming up: It's one of the weirdest quirks in Portland scheduling ever. The Winter Hawks (10-20-0-1), who beat Tri-City 4-2 on Sunday to end a five-game losing streak, play again at Tri-City on Friday and play host to the Americans on Saturday at the Rose Garden. Then, the first two games after the Christmas break will be against Tri-City.

'But it's so broken up, with plenty of days between,' Hawk coach Mike Williamson says. 'It's the way games got laid out; they were some of the last games put into the schedule.'

It's the first time Portland has ever played a team five games in a row. The Winter Hawks played Seattle 21 times in 1981-82, the most ever against one team, but never more than twice in a row.

Tribune player of the week: Veteran Rob Klinkhammer netted a natural hat trick - three consecutive goals - in the Tri-City win, increasing his team-leading totals to 18 goals and 34 points. He has been better about getting to the net to create offense, Williamson says.

Seattle used Klinkhammer, 20, in a strictly defensive role. Now he has a second lease on his hockey career. 'He's surprised all of us,' Williamson says. 'We hoped he'd bring leadership and two-way play. But he definitely has more speed and plays with more confidence, offensively, than we thought.'

This and that: The Winter Hawks played better team defense, led by defensemen Stefan Langweider, Michael Sauer and Scott Gabriel, at Tri-City. … The Hawks had been outscored 18-3 in three previous losses and were 2-12-0-1 in their previous 15 games. … Langweider has been selected to play for Germany in the World Junior Championships in Sweden. He will leave Dec. 18 and return Jan. 6, missing five games.

- Jason Vondersmith