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Seven by Seven / Seven things you need to know by 7 a.m.

1. All the other students have left for semester break, but some of the local Big 4 college basketball teams have one more assignment before they can go home for Christmas. The Niagara Purple Eagles men face Quinnipiac on the road tonight. Meanwhile, in the Koessler Athletic Center at Canisius College, both the men and women are at home in a doubleheader. The women play Albany at 5:15 p.m., then the men take on Loyola of Chicago at 7:30. Both games will be televised on Time Warner SportsNet.

2. Country singer Pat Shea has established his own holiday tradition. For the 15th year, he's doing his annual Christmas show, bringing his rich, three-octave baritone to the Lancaster Opera House, 21 Central Ave., at 7:30 p.m. There's no question that he knows the material well. He has two Christmas CDs to prove it. Tickets are $20 at the door, $7 for kids 12 and under. For info, call 870-4709.

3. It's the busiest shipping day of the year for the nation's largest parcel delivery service, UPS, and no wonder. It's the last day you can send out a package and have it arrive in time for Christmas. Expect long lines at the UPS outlets. Ditto for the post offices. Although it's too late for regular parcel post or even Priority Mail, you can still get a gift where it has to go by Christmas if you send it Express Mail.

4. One of the few bright spots for the struggling Buffalo Sabres this month was Friday's home ice overtime victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. After suffering two miserable losses since then, they'll try to end their slide when they face the Leafs again tonight, this time in the Air Canada Centre in Toronto (7, MSG, 550 AM).

5. Marking this morning's arrival of the winter solstice are the players from Buffalo United Artists, 119 W. Chippewa St. A cast of more than a dozen musicians, actors, singers and others will stage a Spontaneous Solstice Celebration at 7 p.m., with proceeds to benefit the theater. Donation is $10, or if you wish, bring a dessert to pass.

6. New Creation Fellowship Church, 3325 Genesee St., Cheektowaga, is a distribution center for the Western New York Holiday Partnership and has been giving Christmas toys to needy families for more than 20 years. With needs greater than ever this year, Pastor Stephen J. Andzel and the congregation expect to pass along a record number of toys to hundreds of youngsters tonight, beginning at 8.

7. We're all familiar with the crazy early hours that retailers have on the Friday after Thanksgiving. The Macy's store in Walden Galleria is taking it to a new level, staying open around the clock from now until 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve -- so you can't get away with saying you couldn't find the time to shop. The local outlet is one of only 14 in six states staging the shopping marathon, which kicked off Wednesday.

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Don't miss on buffalonews.com:

Watch a Bills-Broncos preview and take a look at entertainment options this holiday weekend with GustoTV at video.buffalonews.com.

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