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Friday, November 24, 2017

2017 OTTAWA GREY CUP PHOTOS


The 2017 Grey Cup may or may not go down as the greatest Grey Cup in history but Ottawa has certainly put its best foot forward!

Here are some photos:

Commisioner Randy Ambrosie got Friday started by taking a selfie with the national media at his annual State of the League Address ..


110 CFL Alumni turned out for the annual CFLAA Legends Lunch! To me, it's the best event at Grey Cup annually ..


With some Eskimo fans ..


Commissioner Ambrosie addresses the soldout crowd at the Legends Lunch. It was the largest crowd in the event's history at 900+ ..


The greatest Canadian in CFL history: Ottawa QB Russ Jackson. He was honoured along with Jeff Avery as the CFLAA's Men of the Year.

Russ said, "With all due apologies to the Saskatchewan fans, Ottawa has taken over as the loudest, most boisterous fanbase in the CFL!"

He added, "The CFL CANNOT fail in Ottawa again!"


Things get warmed up at Riderville ..



Posing with some Rider fans Friday night ..


Our intrepid reporter Candid Frank Stanisci poses with the mascot from legendary Gabriel Pizza ..


The RedBlacks R-Nation Party in the Aberdeen Pavillion. It looks eerily similar to several small town Saskatchewan rinks I've played in ..


The exterior of the Aberdeen Pavillion, and the hub of Grey Cup events ..


The SportsCage aired daily from Radio Row at TD Place. Here we are with Luc Mullinder, The Sports Doctor and Candid Frank ..




What everybody's chasing ..

Thanks Ottawa!

10 POINTS FROM COMMISSIONER AMBROSIE'S FIRST STATE OF THE LEAGUE ADDRESS


OTTAWA - Canadian Football League Commissioner Randy Ambrosie held his first-ever State of the League Address at Grey Cup Week in Ottawa on Friday morning. He opened with a slick promotional video for the CFL, and the info contained is near the bottom of this post.

Here are some notes from his address and Q&A session with reporters:

1 - The Winnipeg native has been looking forward to this event since the day he was hired on July 5. He said that was the proudest day of his life, and the past five months have been the most amazing of his life.

2 - Ambrosie admitted that due to his late hiring, he hasn't gotten to know the league's GMs and Coaches as well as he'd like, but that'll come this off-season.

3 - Very quickly he got to the topic of concussions, saying that they are indeed injuries and are brain trauma. The Commissioner said the CFL is constantly looking for ways to treat and manage these injuries. "We are going to rely on science," Ambrosie said. "But right now the science is very unclear. Inconclusive." He noted that concussions aren't confined to football; they span a variety of sports including diving, gymnastics, hockey and soccer for instance.

4 - Ambrosie feels the CFL can be 2-3 times bigger as a league (business) and there's no reason why every stadium can't be full for every game. "Our product is worth watching," he said.

5 - There are two seasons in the CFL: football season, and business season. The business season starts on Monday.

6 - Ambrosie said they'd like to activate a data stragey, a centralized ticketing system, and utilize data to tell them what their business is on a daily basis.

7 - The Commissioner said he's "very worried" about the stadium situation in Calgary, saying the greatest team over the past 20 years in the CFL plays in one of the poorest stadiums. "That's a tragedy," Ambrosie said, and used the term "terrible".

8 - Regarding moving the regular season up, Ambrosie said that's a Top-3 question that he gets from CFL fans. "We should look into it," Ambrosie said. "And there are a lot of reasons to do it." He referenced potentially playing the Grey Cup in October as early as 2019.

9 - The Commissioner said officiating is the #1 criticism of all leagues and that "it's always going to be tough". The speed of today's game makes it very difficult for the officals. "We're so proud of some of the innovations we employ," Ambrosie said. "Officiating is the integrity on which our league sits." He said they need to talk to CFL officials this off-season to see where the gaps are in their training, and that the Command Centre needs to be revisited. It was designed to fix egregious errors, not make the perfect call. "I'm proud of our officials," he concluded. "It's a super tough job."

10 - Regarding expansion to Halifax, Ambrosie said the resources of the Halifax ownership group (including Gary Drummond and Anthony Leblanc) are "a game-changer". Ambrosie said the situation is very positive and a team in the Maritimes will open all kinds of doors for the CFL.

RP
@rodpedersen

CFL AIMS TO REACH NEW HEIGHTS

OTTAWA — The Canadian Football League is strong and looking towards an even brighter future, says Commissioner Randy Ambrosie.

“Our mission is to take our league to even greater heights,” Ambrosie told those at the annual State of the League news conference today in Ottawa.

Five months into his tenure as the league’s 14th Commissioner, Ambrosie highlighted some key metrics:

- It is expected that one in three Canadians will watch at least part of the 105th Grey Cup presented by Shaw on TSN and RDS this Sunday at 6 pm ET.
- Two million fans attended a CFL game this year.
- 2.4 million watch the CFL on TSN and RDS each regular season weekend.
- Playoff ratings for the divisional semifinals were up seven per cent and ratings for the divisional finals were up 15 per cent from a year ago.
- Offensive scoring is up 19 per cent and penalties are down 14 per cent since 2014.
- The league has seen $2 billion invested in recent years in new and improved venues, including the opening of the new Mosaic Stadium this year in Saskatchewan.
- Fans are engaging with the league online like never before, with 20.7 million video views this year on CFL social media channels; 25 million page views on CFL.ca; 175,000 fans playing some form of CFL fantasy and 60,000 downloads of the league’s CFL Football Frenzy mobile game.

Ambrosie cited several new steps forward for the league in 2017:

- the launch of its Diversity is Strength campaign, which brought a message of inclusion to the CFL’s own sidelines and events with youth, including a #BringItIn Rally with hundreds of local school children here this week.
- the introduction of Mark’s CFL Week, a fan- and media-friendly offseason showcase for the league’s leading players and top prospects;
- the mid-season decision to improve game flow by reducing coaches’ video challenges to one per team per game;
- the CFL NFL Flag Football tournament for youth that included competitions in every CFL city and culminated in a championship played here this week.
- an unprecedented agreement with the Canadian Football League Players’ Association to ban full contact practices during the regular season plus an extension of the season to reduce the number of short turnarounds between games.

“The health and safety of our players is of paramount importance to us,” said Ambrosie, who played in the CFL for nine seasons and was a member of the Edmonton Eskimos team that won the Grey Cup in 1993.

Addressing the issue of concussions in sport, Ambrosie described as “state of the art” the league’s approach to promoting awareness among players and working to prevent, diagnose, assess and treat concussions.

He vowed to continue to work with experts in the medical and scientific communities as research evolves.

He praised the work CFL teams and players do in the community, including the Be More Than a Bystander program that combats violence against women, Purolator Tackle Hunger which supports local food banks, CP Has Heart and its efforts to promote heart health, and many more.

On the prospect of the CFL adding a tenth team, Ambrosie confirmed an “enthusiastic and credible” group has come forward with hopes of securing a franchise for Halifax. But he stressed that discussions are in the early stages and a lot of work has to be done before any decisions are made.

“I know this can feel like unfinished business for many Canadians and especially our fans,” he said.

“But we must do our due diligence to ensure any expansion would make our entire league stronger over the long term.”

The Calgary Stampeders will face the Toronto Argonauts Sunday in the 105th Grey Cup presented by Shaw, which will also feature a half-time performance by Shania Twain.

To be played here at TD Place Stadium at Lansdowne Park, the home of the Ottawa REDBLACKS, the Grey Cup is the biggest single day sporting event in Canada and one of the country’s most watched events of any kind.

SCRUFFY'S FRIDAY THIS N' THAT

Welcome to Friday!  Here are the usual weekly thoughts running through my muddled mind, and as always they come in no particular order.

- Grey Cup Sunday is near. Do you care?  Surprisingly, the answer is no with many I have spoken to and many who texted in or called into the Sportscage this week. I find it hard to believe that in a province where so many eat, sleep and breath Rider football, that there is a lack of interest in the CFL championship.  Are we that jaded as a fan that we can't watch the league's championship game without the Riders in it or do we just hate Calgary that much? It may be a little of both.

- I will be the first to admit that I will be watching NFL games on Sunday and forgoing the pre-game show on TSN, but even though the Seahawks are playing the late game, I will be checking in with the Grey Cup and not ignoring it as so many have said they will do.  If you do that, is it good for the league?  If the league isn't healthy, the Riders aren't healthy.  Yes, they are the straw that stirs the league's drink, but it does surprise me there is so much apathy towards the game.  Is this just the moral minority speaking?

- As for the game, the Stampeders are seven point favourites and they deserve to be. They clearly are the better team, but that was the case last year against Ottawa as well and we know what happened.  If that should happen again this year, what will it say about Dave Dickenson?  It will be two years in a row he has gotten to the big game and been beaten.  Could another veteran quarterback have a day to remember in what could perhaps be his swan-song? If Ray pulls off a Henry Burris, questions will have to be asked in Calgary.  Despite the disparity in records, we all know things can happen in a one-game winner-take-all.  While Calgary has ruled the regular season in the CFL over the past decade, they still own as many Cups as the Riders over that time frame at 2 with Toronto also looking to make it two in the last 10 years with a win on Sunday.

- Commissioner Randy Ambrosie will get grilled today---twice!  Once by the media and then a while later by the fans in what may be a better deal than the session with reporters from across the land.  We all know there are many issues that Ambrosie must face in the off-season.   What is the number one issue?  There are so many different topics ranging from the marketing of the league to its officiating to the playoff format to scheduling.  I think the fans may be tougher on him than what the media will be. They will be the ones sending the message because they are the lifeblood of the league.  I'm sure he will handle everything the way he has handled things since becoming the guy in charge.  I do want to know what his off-season agenda is. As I've said before, I think this will not be an off-season where the CFL closes its doors with many announcements coming from the league office as Ambrosie tries to get a better reputation for his 9 and maybe 10 team loop. In fact, he basically assured us of that when he told Tim Baines of the Ottawa Sun this week.

"In the next five years, I want this game to set reasonable but aggressive targets for growth. I want to set revenue growth targets, I want to set attendance growth targets, I want to set broadcast growth targets. I want our players to be in a league that is on the move and marching forward. We’re going to have two seasons in the CFL from now on – football season and business season. Football season will end Sunday night at about 9:30 (EST). Business season starts Monday at 8 a.m. I use this word ‘co-opetition.’ We compete like crazy sideline to sideline, but we co-operate with each other in the name of a better Canadian Football League.|

How can you not love that statement if you're a CFL fan!!

- They kicked the Rider pep band out of media row?! Is this going to be the story before the 105th Grey Cup much like the fight between Angelo Mosca and Joe Kapp dominated the days leading up to the 102nd GC in Vancouver. It might.

- The Vanier Cup goes this weekend if you've forgotten.  Laval will play Western in Hamilton.  I'm not sure why USports Canada insists on having this game played on the day before the Grey Cup when the contests are in a different venue.  It would benefit USports Canada greatly in having the Vanier played in the same city, but that does present other problems.  The game should perhaps be played the day before CFL divisional finals weekend, Move it up a week if you can't have it in the same place as Grey Cup.

I also wonder when Regina will put a bid in for a future Vanier. You can't tell me it hasn't been discussed by the Rams and the University of Regina. It's not like they don't have a nice stadium to play the game in.

- Congrats to Nick Cross! Everyone around the Rams knew this kid was going to be special right out of the gate and they were right.  The linebacker is more than deserving of his national award for rookie of the year.  It won't be the last award he wins in university and pro football.  Congrats as well to Noah Picton for being named a 1st team All-Canadian. He just puts something else on a resume that should be more than good enough to get drafted and get a good look by a CFL team.

- Week 12 NFL Lock of the Week --- Steelers over Packers
  Week 12 NFL Upset of The Week --- Jets over Panthers

- After watching a tripleheader of NFL on Thursday, I can say  1) The Vikings are possibly setting their fans up for another playoff heartbreak 2) The Cowboys are nothing without Ezekiel Elliott and 3) The sleepiness those in the US had from watching the Giants-Redskins wasn't because of o-d'ing on turkey.

- They say if you aren't in the Stanley Cup playoffs at US Thanksgiving, you aren't getting in. While that does astound me seeing we are just hitting the quarter pole, the numbers do seem to reflect that as 75 percent of teams in a playoff spot now do hold on to make it.  If that is accurate this year, it means Ottawa, Montreal and Edmonton would be on the outside looking in come playoff time.  I'm going to look at the standings and say that 75 percent number won't hold true this year.

If it does though, the Canadian team at the Worlds would be Olympic-calibre.  You could have Carey Price and Corey Crawford in net. Your defence could consist of guys like Brent Burns, Aaron Ekblad, Brent Seabrook and Shea Weber. Your forwards would be led by Connor McDavid, Jonathan Toews,  Brad Marchand, Claude Giroux and Logan Couture.  Not bad! Olympics Shmolympics!

- Gary Bettman and the city of Houston are apparently talking about the NHL. The Flames ownership is talking about leaving Calgarry if they don't get a new rink.  Hmmmmmmm!!! I still don't think Calgary is leaving, and I still think Quebec City is back in the NHL before places like Houston and Seattle are.

- Great point from Sportsnet's Ian Mendes. He sent out a tweet Thursday saying good on the NHL for not having any games on US Thanksgiving. He says it would nice for the league to respect Canada Day and not have free agency start that day. I couldn't agree more!

- When I first got onto Twitter, I never ever dreamed of having over 4000 followers.  That number really does astound me. Thanks to all who do "follow".  I do question the sanity of many of you.

- For those who complain about nothing to do in Regina on a Friday night, may I suggest some University basketball.  The Cougar men and women both have a challenge in front of them this weekend as Lethbridge comes to town.  Both teams come in with a record of 5-1. Michaela Kleisinger will start draining threes just after 6 and Brian Ofori will start dunking around 8:15. Come out and support some student-athletes and see some entertaining basketball at the same time.

- That's all I got.  Have a great weekend.  Enjoy the game!

Thursday, November 23, 2017

REILLY NAMED 2017 CFL MOST OUTSTANDING PLAYER


OTTAWA - Mike Reilly would gladly change places with Ricky Ray.

The Edmonton Eskimos quarterback was named the CFL's outstanding player by the Football Reporters of Canada and eight league coaches (77 votes) on Thursday evening at Grey Cup festivities in Ottawa. Ray was the runner-up but will lead the Toronto Argonauts into the Grey Cup against the Calgary Stampeders on Sunday.

"Without a doubt, no question,'' Reilly said emphatically. ``I don't even have to think about that."

Reilly, 32, started all 18 regular-season games and led Edmonton (12-6) to five straight wins to end the regular season and clinch third in the West Division despite numerous injuries. The six-foot-three, 230-pound Reilly received 64 votes after leading the CFL in passing (5,830 yards) and finishing tied with Ottawa's Trevor Harris for most TDs (30).

Reilly also ran for 12 TDs and had 39 completions of 30-plus yards, both league-best marks. Edmonton led the CFL in net offence (406.8 yards), offensive points (27.2 per game), offensive touchdowns (52) while allowing a league-low 29 sacks.

Other winners included running back Andrew Harris (Canadian) and Stanley Bryant (lineman) of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, linebacker Alex Singleton and kick-returner Roy Finch (special-teams) of the Stampeders as well as running back James Wilder Jr, (rookie) and Marc Trestman (coach) of the Argos.

Montreal centre Luc Brodeur-Jourdan received the Jake Gaudaur Veteran's Award (possessing positive qualities of Canada's veterans), Edmonton receiver Adarius Bowman claimed the Tom Pate Award (outstanding community service) while TSN's Paul Graham captured the Hugh Campbell Leadership Award. And Randy Ambrosie presented the Commissioner's Award posthumously to former CFL player Rick Sowieta.

Trestman, 61, earned his second honour (first was in '09 with Montreal) with 54 votes. In his first year with Toronto, Trestman guided the Argos (9-9) to a Grey Cup berth following last year's 5-13 mark.

After thanking his family, Argos GM Jim Popp, Toronto players and coaches as well as all CFL players and coaches, Trestman was especially appreciative of Wilder Jr. sharing his award with his offensive line.

"I think that was great, James is a real guy,'' Trestman said. "It was unexpected but I was proud of him.''

Calgary's Dave Dickenson, last year's winner, was the finalist. The Stampeders had a CFL-best 13-4-1 record and are making their second straight Grey Cup appearance.

(Canadian Press)

10 THINGS I THINK I THINK

1 - GREY CUP 105: We haven't even been in Ottawa for 24 hours and I've already declared 2017 Grey Cup Week better than last year in Toronto. Why? Because for one, people actually know it's on and care. For two, there were already lineups to get into parties and that was on a Wednesday. Take a bow Ottawa! You've grabbed Canada's #1 sporting event with ghusto and ran with it.

2 - THE GAME: Calgary versus Toronto is a less-scintillating match-up compared to what could have been (Saskatchewan vs anyone) but kudos to both teams for earning the right to be here. The Stampeders have become like Montreal last decade: their appearance at Grey Cup has become so regular that it's boring. However you can't penalize them for their excellence. Stamps to win on Sunday by 5.

3 - THE CONSPIRACY: At halftime of the East Division Final when the Riders were losing 17-3 in Toronto, I Tweeted "It's clear the preference is for Toronto to be in the Grey Cup". I stand by the comment, although it wasn't directed at anyone specific. All weekend in Toronto I heard that a West-West Grey Cup would be a deathknell for the CFL and once the EDF kicked off, 90% of the calls went Toronto's way. I wasn't pointing the finger at anyone in particular, but rather making an observation. Don't underestimate the power of the subconscious mind.

4 - JONES: It started with a buzz in the airports on the way here; dozens of CFL fans and football types alike asked, "Is Jones coming?" People can't get enough of the polarizing Head Coach & GM of the Saskatchewan Roughriders. I assume he'll be in Ottawa because there's plenty of league business to be done. Last year he spent a lot of time mingling with the dozens of fans at Riderville at the Toronto Grey Cup.

5 - ANNIS STUKUS: Sportsnet's Arash Madani said on the SportsCage this week "Forget Marc Trestman and forget Dave Dickenson. Chris Jones is the Coach of the Year. I don't understand why Rider fans don't like him." That comment caught me off-guard. Do Rider fans STILL dislike Chris Jones? He took this team from a pile of rubble to a conference title game for the first time in five seasons. Jones says he "loves it here" and wants to sign an extension. Are you still upset over Jones dumping franchise greats? Get over it.

6 - AIR CANADA: At the first cocktail party I attended at this year's Grey Cup (hosted by TSN's Dave Naylor), the buzz in the room was all about Brandon Bridge.  "Can he lead a team?" they asked and "What'll he sign for?" CKRM's Luc Mullinder admitted that it's "odd" Bridge's agent would make the first move on contract talks with the Riders given the fact he's headed to free agency and there will be plenty of teams looking for a QB. Bridge is a Mississauga boy, loves his Mom's cooking, and would sell tickets for the Argos. Methinks this story goes until at least mid-February.

7 - TORONTO: My hat is off to the Argonauts. They nearly soldout last weekend's EDF and there was a palpable buzz in town. It didn't hurt that Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock - a staunch Rider fan -  made a huge deal of the Riders-Argos match-up in advance of the game. The Argos are coming back and shame on those who said the Argos situation is "hopeless" (Sportsnet's Bob McCown). Read This: No situation is hopeless.

8 - LIONS DEN: Unfortunately the B.C. Lions are entering hopeless territory. From what we hear, their entire organization is in flux because owner David Braley has decided to hold onto the team for at least one more year and won't spend a dime on marketing or business. He's dropped the decision of next year's Coach/GM into the lap of Wally Buono which is entirely unfair. Wally's ready to retire - certainly he's earned the right - but he's reluctant to walk away after missing the playoffs for the first time in 21 years. Again, these are the rumours at Grey Cup cocktail parties.

9 - THE CAROUSEL: Names you'll hear a lot of for Coach and GM vacancies this off-season: Danny McManus, Paul Lapolice, Jeremy O'Day, Corey Chamblin, Devone Claybrooks, John Murphy, Brendan Taman, Ed Hervey, Jim Barker and many more. Remember the season still has one more game to go and there's a freeze on CFL announcements not-related-to-the-Grey-Cup this week. There's a ton to shake down after Sunday.

10 - AND FINALLY: It may be time for the annual "Sex Question" to go at the Grey Cup coaches news conference. The Edmonton Sun's Terry Jones asked Marc Trestman and Dave Dickenson if they'll allow their players to get busy this week and Trestman said his answer hasn't changed since the last time his team was here. Dickenson turned the tables and asked the reporters if THEY'D have sex this week. My response to that is, "Yuck" ... The Commissioner's State of the League news conference goes Friday morning and it's expected to be a tame affair compared to the last two, but playoff realignment figures to come up ... CFL reporters were impressed that Randy Ambrosie appeared at last night's party. I got to shake his hand ... Eskimos back-up QB James Franklin is still likely the #1 free agent this winter. He never gets to play in Edmonton and has to be tired of that ... Esks HC Jason Maas is a hot topic but how could he be fired? He's a fine head coach but needs to stop losing his cool. He's young and will learn ... It's been an outstanding year for the CFL. I'm grateful to be a part of it.

Y'er welcome,
RP
@rodpedersen

PATS UNABLE TO AVENGE DUB FINALS LOSS

Photo: Brian Liesse
KENT, WA — The Seattle Thunderbirds defeated the Regina Pats 6-3 Wednesday night in front of a boisterous and season high 6,149 fans at accesso ShoWare Center.

The T-Birds won the 2017 WHL Championship with a 4-2 best-of-seven series win over the Pats on May 14 in Regina. This was the only meeting of the year between the two teams.

Matt Berlin had a solid game in net for the T-Birds making 33 saves on 36 shots to improve his record to 7-5-0-1.

Regina (13-10-2-0) took a 1-0 lead at 10:15 of the first period on a five-on-three power-play goal from Sam Steel. Josh Mahura and Matt Bradley had the assists. Seattle (11-9-1-1) tied the game 1-1 at 14:37 of the first.

The T-Birds went in front 2-1 early in the second on a goal by Zach Andrusiak. The Pats tied it 2-2 a minute later on a goal from Cale Fleury. Mahura and Braydon Buziak had the assists.

Andrusiak struck a second time, at 9:30 of the second on the power play, to give the T-Birds a 3-2 lead and they carried that lead into the third.

Sam Steel tied the game 3-3 22 seconds into the third period. Fleury and Robbie Holmes had the assists.

Seattle then scored two goals in 2:09 to take a 5-3 lead, which was eerily similar of last years WHL Final. The T-Birds scored in bunches.

Regina pulled Brown with 2:32 left in the game for an extra attacker. Wedman picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone and fired it into the empty net for the T-Birds sixth goal and a 6-3 Seattle final.

Seattle outshot Regina 40-36 in the game.

Tyler Brown finished with 33 saves on 39 shots and his record is now 9-7-2-0.

The Pats (13-11-2) are back in action on Friday against the Tri-City Americans. Puck drop is at 9 p.m. Regina time on 620 CKRM.  Next home game is Friday, December 8 against the Kelowna Rockets. Tickets are available at reginapats.com, the Brandt Centre Box office and at all Regina Safeway locations, Safeway Funzone tickets are just $13 plus tax.

(With files from SeattleThunderbirds.com, ReginaPats.com)

GREY CUP NOTEBOOK: WEDNESDAY

Photo: CFL.ca
OTTAWA - Time has done little to diminish the disappointment of Dave Dickenson's last Grey Cup visit to Ottawa.

Dickenson was the surprise starter for the B.C. Lions ahead of league MVP Casey Printers in the 20014 championship game. Dickenson, a three-time Grey Cup champion, played the entire game, but the Lions came up short in a 27-10 loss to the Toronto Argonauts.

"I remember the losses more than the wins ... and '04 stings,'' Dickenson said Wednesday during the Grey Cup coaches news conference. "When you lose you look back in a different light and certainly wish we could've done things different.''

That win was redemption for Toronto starter Damon Allen, who'd been dealt by B.C. to the Argos the previous season after the Lions signed Dickenson as a free agent. Allen was named the game MVP after passing for 299 yards and a TD.

Dickenson, now Calgary's head coach, returns to TD Place Stadium on Sunday when the Stampeders face the Toronto Argonauts in the '17 Grey Cup game.

Dickenson began the '04 season as the Lions' starter before suffering a knee injury. Printers stepped in and was simply brilliant, completing 325-of-494 passes (65.8 per cent) for 5,088 yards with 35 TDs and just 10 interceptions.

But Printers injured his throwing shoulder in B.C.'s 27-25 overtime West final win over Saskatchewan. That forced Lions head coach Wally Buono to start Dickenson against Toronto.

"I remember Wally making the right decision starting me,'' Dickenson said. "That was a weird week, a weird, weird week.

"Casey was the MVP that year, he threw the ball underhand during practice to save his shoulder. Now that I'm a head coach ... I want to see what I'm going to get in the game in practice. When you can't do that it makes it very difficult to have faith that person is going to get the job done.''

Dickenson, a member of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, finished 18-of-27 passing for 201 yards and a TD while running eight times for 36 yards.

"We did a lot of things wrong,'' Dickenson said. "We had a fight on the bus the day before the game.

"It wasn't the type of situation that I would want to happen for our team this year.''
_______________________________________________

OTTAWA - Marc Trestman recognized Dave Dickenson's coaching potential 10 years ago.

The two will square off Sunday in the Grey Cup game when Toronto faces Calgary at TD Place. Trestman will complete his first season as the Argonauts head coach while Dickenson is in his second year as the Stampeders' head man.

Shortly after Dickenson was released by the B.C. Lions in November 2007, Trestman approached the veteran quarterback about becoming part of his coaching staff with the Montreal Alouettes.

Dickenson declined because he still wanted to continue playing. He spent the 2008 season with Calgary before becoming the club's running backs coach in '09.

Trestman spent five seasons as Montreal's head coach from 2008 to 2012, reaching the Grey Cup three times and winning twice before leaving to become the Chicago Bears head coach.

Dickenson was promoted to offensive co-ordinator with Calgary in 2011 before replacing John Hufnagel as head coach in 2016.
_____________________________________________

OTTAWA - Defensive lineman Charleston Hughes of the Calgary Stampeders wasted no time kicking off the Grey Cup trash talk Wednesday.

The Stampeders face the Toronto Argonauts on Sunday at TD Place in a battle of the two division first-place finishers. Calgary took spot in the West with a CFL-best 13-4-1 record while the Argos (9-9) finished atop the East.

A big part of Toronto's success this year has been the play of quarterback Ricky Ray. After being relegated to nine games the last two years, Ray started 17 contests this season, passing for over 5,000 yards for the first time since 2008.

Ray, completing his 15th CFL season is also the East Division nominee for the league's outstanding player award. But Hughes wasn't giving the Argos quarterback any love Wednesday.

"Ricky Ray is not difficult to take down,'' Hughes said. "He's one of the easier quarterbacks to sack because when he sees you coming he's going to turtle.''

Hughes led the CFL in sacks (11), anchoring a Calgary pass rush that finished tied with Toronto atop the league standings with 50. The Argos allowed 40 sacks, sixth in the nine-team league.

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FAJARDO CONTINUES: While Cody Fajardo will dress for Sunday's Grey Cup game, his former college teammate Colin Kaepernick remains out of football.

Fajardo succeeded Kaepernick as the starter at the University of Nevada, Reno. Kaepernick went on to play for the NFL's San Francisco 49ers, leading the team into the Super Bowl.

But Kaepernick has remained unsigned since opting out of his deal with San Francisco in March 2016. Some say it's because his performance had declined, but others suggest it's likely because of his decision to sit, then kneel during the American national anthem to protest racial inequality and police brutality in the U.S.

The six-foot-five, 215-pound Fajardo played 41 games at Nevada from (2010-14), becoming just the second player in FBS history to accumulate 9,000 yards passing and 3,000 yards rushing in career. The other was Kaepernick.

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QUIET RAY: Ricky Ray has been instrumental in the Toronto Argonauts' resurgence this season but head coach Marc Trestman said the veteran quarterback remains a quiet entity.

"Ricky Ray shows you that leaders come all different ways,'' Trestman said Wednesday during the Grey Cup coaches news conference. "Ricky Ray is really the surgeon, he's really the guy who just does it but the vocal part of him is not there.

"He can do it ... if he's got something to say he'll be very specific and right on but he's not going to reach out and speak to the team unless I ask him to. I've not asked him very much to do it, only on one or two occasions have I asked him to break the huddle at the end of practice.''

Ray has a well-earned reputation of being a quiet leader, someone who'll never openly celebrate a positive situation or chew out a teammate for an on-field miscue. After rallying Toronto to a 25-21 East Division final win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders, Ray actually was photographed smiling.

"I know this, when I go to work every day I can't wait to get there because I get to work with Ricky Ray,'' Trestman said. "Ricky Ray gives us hope.

"He loves football and when you walk into the meeting room you want a quarterback who not only loves football but really loves football and will do everything to prepare properly. By the same part of it he brings out the best in everybody because we don't want to let him down.''
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TORONTO - The mayors of Toronto and Calgary say they've agreed to the terms of the traditional Grey Cup bet as the Argonauts and Stampeders prepare to meet Sunday in Ottawa.

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi and Toronto Mayor John Tory say the losing mayor will contribute $5 for every point scored by the winning team to a food bank in the winning mayor's city.

Tory has selected the Daily Bread Food Bank while Nenshi has selected the Calgary Food Bank.

Both mayors are encouraging fans to make similar friendly bets to benefit their own local food banks.

The losing mayor will also send the winning mayor a selection of local craft beer.

In addition, the losing mayor must wear the winning team's jersey and read a poem - written or selected by the winning mayor - at their next city council meeting.

(Canadian Press)

THIS WEEK IN COUGAR ATHLETICS

Swimming (Women’s U SPORTS Ranking: No. 9) – The Cougars will head to Vancouver Island this weekend to compete in the Canada West Championships, which will be hosted by the University of Victoria from Friday through Sunday. Both the men’s and the women’s teams will head into the meet after being recognized in the latest national poll, with the women’s team checked in at No. 9 and the men’s team receiving votes but just outside of the top 10. Live results and video will be available all weekend long at www.reginacougars.com.

Men’s Hockey – The Cougars picked up a weekend split against the No. 9-ranked Calgary Dinos last weekend, winning 3-2 on Friday night before falling 3-2 on Saturday. Zach McPhee netted the winning goal in Friday’s contest while Tristan Frei had a goal in each game. Regina is back at home this weekend as the Lethbridge Pronghorns visit The Co-operators Centre for two evening matchups.

Women’s Basketball (U SPORTS Ranking: No. 3) – The Cougars picked up a Friday win but lost their first game of the season on Saturday at the hands of the UNBC Timberwolves, falling 81-79. Friday’s contest saw the Cougars roll to an 88-53 win but a late Timberwolves run on Saturday dropped the Cougars to 5-1. The Cougars will return to the CKHS this weekend for a battle against the 8-0 Lethbridge Pronghorns.

Men’s Basketball – The Cougars (5-1) bumped their win streak to five games with 80-76 and 96-88 wins over the hometown UNBC Timberwolves on the weekend. Regina is back at the CKHS for the final home games of the calendar year this weekend, as the undefeated Lethbridge Pronghorns are in town for a two-game series.

Women’s Volleyball – The Cougars earned a sweep of the Brandon Bobcats at the CKHS last weekend, fighting back for a thrilling five-set victory thanks to kills on the final four plays by Canada West Second Star of the Week Ashlee Sandiford on Friday night before a three-set sweep on Saturday. Regina (5-5) will head to Kelowna this weekend for a matchup against the 6-2 UBC Okanagan Heat.

Men’s Volleyball – The Cougars dropped a pair of home matches against the Brandon Bobcats on the weekend, losing 3-0 on Saturday before a tough five-set defeat on Saturday night. The Cougars will refocus this weekend as they take on the UBC Okanagan Heat (3-5) in Kelowna.

Women’s Hockey – The Cougars suffered a pair of defeats at The Co-operators Centre on the weekend, as the Calgary Dinos picked up two 1-0 wins. Regina (4-6-1-1) will look to rebound this weekend on the road against the seventh-place Lethbridge Pronghorns.

Wrestling (Women’s U SPORTS Ranking: No. 4 / Men’s U SPORTS Ranking: No. 10) – The Cougars hosted the Cougar Invitational at the CKHS on the weekend, with the women’s team finishing first in the overall standings. The men’s team placed second, as six Cougar wrestlers earned top spot in their weight class. Both teams will be in action in Saskatoon this weekend for the Huskie Invitational.

Track & Field – The Cougars opened the 2017-18 season on Saturday with their annual Intrasquad Meet split between the CKHS and the Regina Fieldhouse. The team’s first official meet will be on Dec. 2, when the Cougars will compete in the Larmer Friendship Games in Regina.

(Courtesy Braden Konshuh/Cougar Athletics)

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

CHL WEEK 10 TOP 10 RANKINGS

1 Sarnia Sting (18-4-1-0)
2 Moose Jaw Warriors (19-5-0-0)
3 Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (17-3-2-0)
4 Portland Winterhawks (16-4-0-0)
5 Blainville-Boisbriand Armada (15-4-2-0)
6 Swift Current Broncos (15-5-1-0)
7 Kitchener Rangers (15-6-2-0)
8 Quebec Remparts (16-7-1-0)
9 Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (14-5-3-2)
10 Brandon Wheat Kings (14-6-0-1)
 
 Honourable Mention:
 Barrie Colts (13-6-1-1) 7 1
 Medicine Hat Tigers (14-7-0-0) 10 1
 Drummondville Voltigeurs (14-7-1-1) - 2

105TH GREY CUP PREVIEW: STAMPEDERS WILL DEFEAT THE ARGONAUTS


The 105th Grey Cup Game is finally upon us and the festivities are underway all week long in Ottawa. The c,hilly weather forecast won't stop the fun, but it could affect play on Sunday at TD Place. Showers are expected Saturday and on Sunday the temperature is expected to drop back down to between -3 and -8 Celsius (17-26 Fahrenheit). With the Stadium right at the water's edge, the cold moist air is going to seep into the bones and make every hit sting.

Calgary's Campaign (13-4-1) 

The Stampeders broke their 3-game losing streak by holding the league's most prolific offense for three quarters and squeezing by the Edmonton Eskimos 32-28 in the CFL West Division Final.

Bo-Levi Mitchell has been playing through a throwing arm injury, but seems to be back in form. He dropped a TD pass into the hands of Marquay McDaniel and connected with 20 of 32 attempts for 228 yards.

You could say that well-roundedness is an asset in football; it keeps opposing defenses off-balance and guessing and the Stampeder attack is definitely well-balanced. Roy Finch and Jerome Messam combined for 152 yards on the ground and a pair of touchdown (Finch finished with an outstanding 233 all-purpose-yards). So, what is a defense to do? Pull in to stop the run and resort to soft zones and beatable man-coverage in the secondary.

It's amazing that the Stampeders lost three straight to still finish with the best regular season record. I could list off their games, but it is self-evident; they were beating everyone up until their recent slide.

Toronto Argonauts Campaign (9-9)

The East was very weak this season. I take issue with the entire division being .500 or worse in the regular season with the exception of the champs … who just happened to land exactly on .500. Nonetheless, the Argonauts have their tickets to Ottawa in hand and Toronto fans are excited to see the Argos in the championship game.

15-year veteran Field Marshall Ricky Ray dropped 266 yards on the Roughriders defense in Sunday's CFL East Division Final, quite a few of which came in epic fashion in a late-game drive, marching down the field to setup the game-winning score. That said, the offense is still sputtering and the game could be a loss if not for Terrance Plummer's Pick-6.

Though the Argonauts have struggled, Ricky Ray has plenty of Grey Cup experience and much of the talk about the Stampeders having an advantage due to their Cup appearance last year, I believe, is moot. When the team leader has multiple Grey Cup Games under his belt, winning three, and been crowned Grey Cup Most Valuable Player, the 'pressure' isn’t going to get to him. So, between suiting up and starting in the NFL and being a 3-time CFL champion, the big time lights and camera flashes aren't going to sting his eyes. But his offense still needs to execute, and that has been their issue all season long.

Matchup Assessment And Thoughts

Unfortunately for the Argonauts, the Stampeders have gotten the better of Toronto nine out of the last ten times the teams have met. After a Bodog review, Calgary has been listed as 7-point favorites on Sunday. Again, this doesn’t bode well for the Argonauts, as the Stampeders have also covered the point-spread in seven of the last ten meetings.

The last time the Argos beat the Stampeders was way back in July of 2013. And since then, all games have been decided by no less than a double-digit margin of victory for Calgary. On August 26th, the proverbial bullet in the foot for Toronto was the 8 turnovers in their 23-7 loss to the Stampeders. With the offensive proficiency possessed by this Calgary team, Ray and company can ill-afford to give the ball away.

Both teams stack up nicely in passing yards and completion percentage. Calgary averages 71.02% and 269.28 yards through the air, while Toronto averages 69.00% and 264.58 in their air-attack. This is quite comparable. However, where things start getting lop-sided is rushing yards and scoring efficiency. The Stampeders pound the ground for 121.70 yards per game, almost doubling that of the Argonauts' 67.30 ypg … this is also paramount in the 33.10 to 19.40 scoring disparity. Calgary puts up near 14 points more per game.

Toronto is motivated and have won three straight games and Calgary is re-finding their form after a tough slide ... but I think the determining factor is simple: The Stampeders are simply a better team.

I have a feeling that they are going to dominate the Argonauts on Sunday.

(By RodPedersen.com Staff)