Next up: The Winter Hawks (16-18-3-4), who beat Vancouver 6-3 Sunday, tackle their eight-game road trip Ñ six games against WHL Eastern Division teams, starting Friday at Saskatoon.

Trib player of the week: Center Brandon Dubinsky has upped his point total to 32, including a six-game streak of 4 goals and 7 assists. When he plays well, he creates better than anyone else, and he has been looking at scoring more goals Ñ that's good, considering the Winter Hawks lack natural goal scorers.

No problem, yet: Hodge says the Winter Hawks haven't had any problems with the Rose Garden and Memorial Coliseum management switch (see page A1). And he has arranged a meeting to discuss renegotiating the team's lease, which new manager Global Spectrum has assumed.

Hodge says the Winter Hawks don't necessarily need an arrangement where Global Spectrum takes a smaller percentage of the gross ticket revenue. He wants to inquire into whether Global would be willing to share parking and concession revenues, be involved in marketing and make Memorial Coliseum upgrades, and potentially help the Winter Hawks lower ticket prices and fees.

'We both have to be in a win-win,' says Hodge, who claims the lease hinders the team's ability to make a profit. 'The more people we can put in here, the better for them.'

This and that: Martin Bucek, the Czech Republic player who left the Winter Hawks when Ivan Dornic also departed in October, says, 'I missed Portland and I'm happy to be back playing hockey,' through interpreter Tibor Hideghety. 'It's the best place for me.' É Defenseman Michael Sauer says he will schedule an operation on his left hip to fix a torn labrum, which has bothered him for two years. He plans to have a specialist in Pittsburgh do the surgery and he'll miss the rest of the season. '(The hip) started to click, and was getting weak on skating and turning,' he says. É Canada, including Braydon Coburn, plays for the World Junior Tournament title against Russia tonight in Grand Forks, N.D. Last year, a clearing pass bounced off Coburn's chest, leading to the United States beating Canada for the gold. É Shane Halifax has sat out the previous two games in anticipation of a WHL suspension for slashing Seattle's Zack FitzGerald last Friday.

Trade deadline: It's Jan. 10, and Portland President and General Manager Ken Hodge says 'we're looking to improve ourselves.' If Bucek pans out, maybe Hodge can part with a forward. He says that a scoring forward and stay-at-home defenseman would help. Apparently WHL general managers are waiting to see who trades for Swift Current's Tyler Redenbach, a deal that would set the market.

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