Next up: The road-tripping Winter Hawks play two of the WHL's worst teams Ñ Regina tonight and Moose Jaw on Friday Ñ sandwiching in a game against one of the best, Brandon, on Wednesday.

Trib player of the week: A game can turn on Cody McLeod's performance, and the bruising 20-year-old forward punished Prince Albert with his hits and points in a 3-1 win. He had two goals, giving him six in the past seven games, and an assist. There have been more talented overages in a Winter Hawks sweater, but not many with his heart.

This and that: Braydon Coburn was minus-4 at Saskatoon in his first game after helping Canada win the World Junior Tournament. For Coburn, winning junior gold 'definitely ranks as the top thing in my career,' ahead of being drafted by Atlanta. É Portland is 4 of 12 on the power play in the past two games, after going 6 of the previous 78. É The Winter Hawks have scored first only 14 times in 43 games. É European Martin Bucek played in the past two games. 'He skates well, shoots the puck well and is very physical,' coach Mike Williamson says. 'We feel he fits into our game.'

No trade: General Manager Ken Hodge tried to acquire a defenseman before Monday's trade deadline, 'but the (other) team pulled out about 50 minutes prior to the deadline.'

Hodge says the price for Swift Current's Tyler Redenbach got too steep. 'He was out of our price range,' he says.

It was rare inactivity for the Winter Hawks, who like their core, but need more consistency. 'You can only buy what you can afford to buy,' Hodge says. 'I think there was minimal activity at the deadline, anyway.'

Hodge says, 'we're so close to getting over the hump' to being a championship team, and Coburn says Portland needs to play 'a team game É we need to bear down and capitalize on our opportunities Ñ make those key plays in the game-breaking situations that turn the tide.'

Ñ Jason Vondersmith

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