Returning home: After an eight-game road excursion that includes stops in Kelowna tonight and Seattle on Saturday, the Winter Hawks play Vancouver at 5 p.m. Sunday in the Rose Garden.

The schedule's pace has slowed after Portland's WHL Eastern Division trip, which will allow for more practices and coaching. After the three-in-three-nights this weekend, the Hawks have only three games in 14 days, and 12 of their final 20 games will be at home.

Records: 18-21-4-4 overall, 4-6-1 since the Christmas break, 5-11-3-3 in the last 22 games.

Under the knife: Defenseman Michael Sauer plans hip surgery (torn labrum) Saturday in Pittsburgh, by the doctor who performed the same procedure on his brother, NHL player Kurt Sauer. He will recuperate for an estimated eight weeks and has a remote chance of returning for the playoffs. É If the NHL has a draft, Sauer and fellow defenseman Brendan Mikkelson would be possible first-round picks. Mikkelson played in the Canadian Hockey League's Top Prospects Game on Wednesday, and got a goal.

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