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The Portland Winter Hawks made the biggest news during the holiday break, moving team captain and top defenseman Michael Sauer to the Medicine Hat Tigers in exchange for a pair of 16-year-old blue line prospects.

Medicine Hat, fighting Vancouver and Everett for the best record in the WHL, parted with the highly regarded pair of Patrick Wiercoich and Lee Morrow to get the deal done to add a dominant defenseman to its blue line.

Mike Sauer, the younger brother of NHL defenseman Kurt Sauer, is a second-round draft choice of the New York Rangers in 2005. Last season, he accumulated 31 points for Portland in 59 games. This year, he has 12 points in 33 games, although he was slowed by injury early in the season. He was also an unsightly minus-8 this season for the Hawks, who sit in the cellar of the U.S. Division.

Sauer will clearly help a Medicine Hat team that has designs on going deep in the WHL playoffs. He is a mobile, two-way defenseman with impressive hockey bloodlines and some big-game experience with Team USA.

"To obtain a player of Michael's caliber, we had to move two good young prospects in Patrick and Lee," Willie Desjardins, the Tigers' GM, said. "Not only are we receiving one of Portland's best players but we are getting a player of great character. Michael is one of the best defenseman in the WHL and knows what it takes to win. This is a very big step in helping our organization to be successful in our conference. We are very excited to have Michael join our organization."

As Desjardins said, the acquisition of Sauer came with a pretty hefty price tag.

Wiercoich , according to reports, is a dynamic offensive defenseman, currently playing in the in the British Columbia Hockey League, a junior A circuit. He has yet to commit to playing in either the WHL or at the NCAA level.

Morrow, meanwhile, is a solid two-way defenseman that impressed in Medicine Hat's training camp this fall. He is currently teammates with Brett Ponich, a 15-year-old that Portland has extremely high hopes for next year.
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Prince Albert and Red Deer hooked up for the first trade of 2007 on Tuesday as the Raiders acquired left winger Devon LeBlanc in exchange for right winger Scott Doucet. LeBlanc, 18, has eight goals and eight assists in 39 games for the Rebels this season, while Doucet has five goals and 15 assists in 38 games.
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Vancouver Giants forward J.D. Watt signed with the Calgary Flames this week. In his fourth season with the Giants, Watt leads the team in goals (18), is sixth overall in team scoring (18g, 12a), and second in penalty minutes (107). Watt was drafted by the Flames in the fourth round of the 2005 Entry Draft.
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Chilliwack also entered the trade waters right before the New Year, trading 20-year-old defenseman Stephane Lenoski to the Spokane Chiefs in exchange for 18-year-old defender Matt McCue, a big rangy, physical defenseman.
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Seattle recently added over-age center Brett Robertson to their lineup, acquiring him in a deal that sent Chris Durand to Prince George. In 32 games this year, Robertson has 21 points. Durand, 19, was in his fourth year with Seattle and was a second-round pick of the Colorado Avalanche in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft.
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The Thunderbirds also made another minor deal during the break, acquiring Prab Rai from Prince George in exchange for Chad Hohmann.
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Cleveland Indians All-Star centerfielder Grady Sizemore dropped the ceremonial first puck prior to the Silvertips game against the Thunderbirds on Dec. 30.
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Prince George Cougars captain Eric Hunter became the Cougars career goals leader when he registered his 14th goal of the season in the 'Cats 4-3 loss to the Spokane Chiefs this week. Hunter, who now has 101 career goals with the Cougars, passes Chris Falloon's former record of 100.
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Kyle Deck, captain of the Regina Pats, returned to the lineup this week after recovering from his third arthroscopic knee surgery in as many seasons.
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Saskatoon has added 17-year old defenseman Sam Klassen to the roster. Klassen started the season playing with the Humboldt Broncos of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.
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Spokane forward Derek Ryan set a franchise record Thursday night with two goals in 16 seconds as a part of 6-2 win at Prince George. Ryan's effort bests the previous mark by two seconds, originally set by NHLer Travis Green nearly 18 years ago to the day.
 
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