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Thursday, August 31, 2017

MARK'S LABOUR DAY WEEKEND GAME NOTES

Matt Smith/CFL.ca
Mark’s Labour Day Weekend kicks off Thursday night with a pivotal East Division tilt in Montreal when the REDBLACKS roll into town. With only a point separating the two teams for second place in the East, this is a crucial swing game for the winning side. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET at Molson Stadium.

Sunday afternoon features the Winnipeg Blue Bombers visiting the Saskatchewan Roughriders at 4 p.m. ET. Both teams enter the game surging: Winnipeg brings a five-game winning streak while the Riders ride a two-game winning streak.

Monday features a double-header that takes fans to the Battle of Alberta beginning at 3:00 p.m. ET. Edmonton travels to Calgary with first place in the West on the line. Calgary has won five annual Labour Day games in a row, with four of those games decided in the final three minutes.

Mark’s Labour Day Weekend ends in Hamilton where the Toronto Argonauts make the trip down the QEW. Marc Trestman will enter his first Labour Day Classic looking to get the boatmen their first victory in the game since 2012. Tiger-Cats head coach June Jones will make his debut for the home side. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. ET at Tim Hortons Field.

OTTAWA AT MONTREAL
THURSDAY, AUGUST 31ST – 7:30 P.M. ET

- This marks the 20th occasion that the Alouettes and teams from Ottawa will meet on Labour Day Weekend and the second consecutive year they’ve met.
- The first time they met on Labour Day Weekend was September 3, 1949 when the Ottawa Rough Riders won 22-21 over the Alouettes.
- Ottawa holds the slight edge (10-9) in the series, and has scored only five more points than Montreal (387-382).
- More than half of the games in this series have been decided in the last three minutes.
- In last year’s game on Mark’s Labour Day Weekend, the REDBLACKS relied heavily on Ernest Jackson who had five receptions for 109 yards and a touchdown. This time around, Jackson will be playing for the Alouettes.
- Nik Lewis also had a big game last year when he recorded 10 receptions for 92 yards and a touchdown.
- In these teams’ first meeting of the season during Week Five, Ottawa won 24-19 in Ottawa.
Since 2014 Montreal is 4-6 versus Ottawa; six of those games were decided by eight points or fewer.
- New receptions record holder Nik Lewis will be looking to pad his record. Last week he broke Geroy Simon’s mark and stands alone with 1,031 and counting.
- This season, nine of Ottawa’s 10 games have been decided by seven points or fewer. Montreal has had seven games decided by seven points or fewer.
- An Ottawa win would give them first place in the East Division with nine points.
- A Montreal victory would have the Alouettes leap-frog the REDBLACKS for second place in the East, as they’re tied with Toronto at 4-6 with Toronto playing on Monday.

WINNIPEG AT SASKATCHEWAN
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 3RD– 4 P.M. ET

- This will be the 54th time the Riders have hosted the Bombers on Labour Day Weekend dating back to 1949. One game was hosted in Winnipeg in 1952.
- During that span Saskatchewan owns the edge, going 34-19 (.642 winning percentage).
- Since 2000, Saskatchewan has a 13-4 record (.765 winning percentage) on Labour Day versus Winnipeg. Last season the Bombers’ 28-25 victory snapped the Riders’ 11-game winning streak on Labour Day.
- This will be the first Labour Day in eight years without Darian Durant under centre for Saskatchewan. During his tenure, Saskatchewan was 6-1 on Labour Day.
- Like last year, Winnipeg enters the big game on a winning streak. In 2016 they entered the game riding a four-game win streak, this year they own a five-game winning streak.
- Matt Nichols will get the nod for the Bombers, becoming the first Bombers quarterback to make consecutive Labour Day Starts since Buck Pierce in 2010 and 2011. The last time a Winnipeg quarterback won back-to-back Labour Day Weekend games was in 1979 and 1980 under Dieter Brock.
- The Blue Bombers have not won consecutive Labour Day Weekend games since 2003, 2004.
- The combined attendance for Labour Day Classics in Regina since the 2000 season is 550,119, an average of 32,360 per game.
- Entering Sunday’s game, Winnipeg features the highest scoring offence (34.2 points per game) and Saskatchewan has the second-fewest points allowed (25.4 points per game).
- Winnipeg opened their 2017 season in Week 2 versus Saskatchewan in the opening game at Mosaic Field, where Winnipeg won 43-30 (OT).

EDMONTON AT CALGARY
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 4TH – 3 P.M. ET

- Monday will mark the 57th Labour Day Game between provincial rivals Calgary and Edmonton. It is also the 36th year in a row (and the 47th time in the last 49 years) they meet on Labour Day.
- Of the 56 Labour Day games between the two clubs, Edmonton holds the advantage at 29-26-1 (.518 winning percentage). The lone tie occurred in 1978, with a score of 28-28.
- This will be the 52nd time that Calgary has hosted the Labour Day game since 1949.
- Calgary enters the game with the exact same record as last year (7-1-1). This is the 10th year in a row that Calgary has entered with a winning record as they look for a sixth straight victory on Labour Day.
- Four of the last five Battle of Albertas on Labour Day have been decided in the final three minutes.
Bo Levi Mitchell will start in his fourth Labour Day contest (3-0), which is also Mike Reilly’s third (0-2).
- In the last four Labour Day Classics between the Alberta rivals, the Eskimos have never led the game despite how close these contests have been.
- This will be the 51st Labour Day game hosted at McMahon Stadium. In the 51 games, they have recorded a total attendance of 1,577,779 for an average of 30,937.
- Calgary is the lone team in the CFL that is unblemished at home (4-0). This season they have a +96 point differential on home turf (153-57).
- Calgary has won 14 consecutive games at McMahon Stadium and have a point differential of +242 during that stretch.
- Edmonton was the last team to beat Calgary at McMahon (2015, Week 16) and have the second-best winning record on the road this season (3-1).

TORONTO AT HAMILTON
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 4TH – 6:30 P.M. ET

- This will be the 47th Labour Day Classic meeting between the Argonauts and Tiger-Cats.
- The Hamilton Tiger-Cats hold a convincing record in the contests, going 32-13-1 (.696 winning percentage).
- Ricky Ray is 1-2 for the Argonauts and 5-7 overall in Labour Day Classic starts. Hamilton turns to Jeremiah Masoli for his first Labour Day Classic start. Masoli enters the game as 4-5 as a starter, and is 1-0 versus Toronto.
- Ricky Ray leads all passers on Labour Day Weekend. In his career he has passed for 3,255 passing yards and 16 touchdown passes in 12 career starts on Labour Day.
- The Tiger-Cats have not lost a Labour Day Classic at Tim Hortons Field, going 3-0 in the new stadium.
- The last time Toronto won a Labour Day Classic was on September 3, 2012 where they pulled off a 33-30 win at Ivor Wynne Stadium.
- Over the last three Labour Day Classics in Hamilton, Tiger-Cats receiver Luke Tasker has 17 receptions for 289 yards.
- Since 2008, Hamilton owns a 5-2 record in the Labour Day Classic.
- Last time Hamilton entered the Labour Day game 0-8 was in 1991 versus Toronto who was 6-2. Hamilton went on to win the game 48-24.
- The two teams opened up the season against each other. Toronto won the game 32-15 at BMO Field.

QUICK SLANTS

- The single-game Labour Day Weekend Classic passing record is 546 yards, set by Jeff Garcia in 1995 for Calgary.
- Winnipeg quarterback Matt Nichols is at 178 consecutive passes without an interception snapped – a new personal best. His previous personal best was 167.
- REDBLACKS receiver and Peterborough, Ontario native Brad Sinopoli will play in his 100th CFL Game on Thursday.
- For the first time in three years at this point in a season, all teams in one Division are .500 or better, and all are below .500 in the other.
- In the last two years, the Ottawa REDBLACKS have had 18 of their 28 games decided by seven points or fewer.
- Boris Bede’s 69.8 yard kickoff average is the highest in CFL history and on pace to break the CFL record of 67.9 yards set by Jamie Boreham in 2010.
- 1,000-Yard Club: Greg Ellingson and SJ Green are nearing the 1,000-receiving yard mark. Ellingson is 56 yards away and Green is 101 yards away from the benchmark.
- Andrew Harris is on pace to rush for over 1,000 yards and 980 receiving yards. No player has ever recorded a 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in the same season.
- Edmonton Eskimos defensive end John Chick will play in his third different Labour Day Classic. He’s played in Saskatchewan/Winnipeg, Hamilton/Toronto and now Edmonton/Calgary games.

(Paulo Senra/CFL PR)

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