Next: The Winter Hawks take a win into their weekend schedule of three games in three nights: They'll face Spokane at 7:30 tonight at Memorial Coliseum, then play at Seattle on Saturday before returning home to take on Everett at 5 p.m. Sunday in the coliseum.

• Coach Rich Kromm says NHL scouts have told him they are closely watching the development of defenseman Bo Montgomery, the Winter Hawk among the 17 eligible players most likely to be drafted high in June.

'It's crossed my mind,' says the 6-5, 205-pound Montgomery, 17. 'I just want to play my best.

'I like it when I have people watching me. I like big games and pressure.'

Montgomery has been inconsistent in his play - although it has improved since the acquisition of Travis Ehrhardt and other defensemen. Before then, he felt more pressure to perform, Kromm says.

'Bo needs to be more of a physical force for us,' the coach says.

'I didn't feel too much pressure,' Montgomery says. 'I was frustrated, not playing my best - things weren't going as well as I wanted them to.'

Montgomery and Ehrhardt, 18, have been paired together. Ehrhardt leads the team in scoring.

'It's been a lot of fun,' says Montgomery, from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. 'He's an offensive defenseman, I'm a defensive D-man. We complement each other. He can rush the puck, knowing I have his back.'

• Kromm, who played 10 years in the NHL, sees pro potential in other Winter Hawk players, including Ehrhardt, Tristan King, Luke Walker, Travis Bobbee and goalie Kurtis Mucha.

Ehrhardt reminds Kromm of former Swift Current D-man Ian White, now in his third year with the Toronto Maple Leafs. 'Travis isn't a big guy, but he's quick and strong,' Kromm says.

• Debunking a rumor, Kromm says he has missed only two or three practices this season, not several, while dealing with his family.

His wife and children have remained in Penticton, British Columbia, where Kromm worked for the Okanagon Hockey Schools before his summertime hiring by the Hawks.

Kromm says he hasn't bought a house here but plans to settle in Portland in the near future and move his family down.

'It was too late in the summer to bring them down,' he says, of his hire date.

- Jason Vondersmith

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