Winter Hawks


WHL U.S. Division (entering the week): Tri-City, 31-23-10-4, 76 points; Everett, 32-26-8-2, 74; Portland, 32-28-6-3, 73; Spokane, 30-28-4-7, 71; Seattle, 22-29-8-9, 61.

The scenario: The Winter Hawks could finish anywhere from first to fourth. If the playoffs began today, they would open against Everett.

Last three: The Hawks can help themselves because they play at Tri-City at 7 p.m. Friday and at Seattle at 7 p.m. Saturday, and then wrap up the regular season against Tri-City at 5 p.m. Sunday in the Rose Garden.

Regehr, Big Snake returning: Defenseman Richie Regehr, out with concussion symptoms, and Robin Big Snake (thigh contusion) both say they will play this weekend. Ivan Dornic (knee) probably won't play until the playoffs next weekend.

Slump: The Hawks have been awful in the past two home games, losing to Tri-City 6-2 Friday and Spokane 6-3 Sunday. When Portland plays 'simple, focused and together,' it wins, coach Mike Williamson says. The team lost Sunday because it 'didn't play with intensity, lost battles and didn't play together,' he says.

Add coach: Williamson says 'mental mistakes' have befallen the Winter Hawks lately. 'Teams go through up-and-down cycles (usually) in January and February. If it was six or seven games in a row, I'd be more concerned. Our team has shown how solid it can play. We're a fantastic team, but É '

Ouch: The Winter Hawks need good goaltending. However, Dustin Butler gave up six goals (including empty-netter) on Sunday, and Krister Toews has given up nine goals on 47 shots in the past two games Ñand was pulled in both.

ÑJason Vondersmith