The Grey Cup goes Sunday in Regina where the hometown Saskatchewan Roughriders host the visiting Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the 101st edition of Canada’s greatest football game.
Last week, the green-clad Roughriders upset the favoured Calgary Stampeders while the Cats went into Toronto and tripped the first-place Argonauts. Hamilton quarterback Henry Burris, who starred for the Roughriders earlier in his career before jumping ship almost a decade ago, will likely be hearing the boo birds throughout Sunday’s game, especially if the Tiger-Cats are losing.
Riders quarterback Darian Durant will be out to win his first Grey Cup and he and the Riders are out to avenge that too-many-men-on-the-field penalty that robbed them of the 2009 Grey Cup.
It should be a well played, hotly contested game. The Roughriders beat the Tiger-Cats twice in the regular season including a July drubbing at Mosaic Stadium at Taylor Field. In addition, the last two Grey Cup winners won at home (B.C. Lions and Toronto Argos), and Sackatchewan is the home team tomorrow.
The UPEI men’s and women’s basketball teams are in action tonight at 6 and 8 p.m. on campus against visiting Dalhousie. The men’s Panthers were 0-4 on the season going into last night’s game and must get moving especially D.J. Smith, who finally broke out of a dreadful shooting slump with 33 points in his last outing. The women’s Panthers are 3-1 and getting great play in the early going from rookies Kiera Rigby, Candace Smith, Jane McLaughlin, Jessica Patenaude, Glendeira Smith and Elysia Drost.
The Island Storm meets the first-place Brampton A’s Sunday at 2 p.m. at Eastlink Centre in a National Basketball League of Canada game.
Antonio Ballard has been a standout at both ends for the Storm averaging 19 points and 10 rebounds. Slick guards Al Stewart and Shawn Vanzant and a great cast should make this an interesting game where first place could be on the line depending on last night’s results.
I had to chuckle the other day when Canada’s Olympic hockey team was listed as 11-5 co-favourites with the hometown Russian club to win gold.
Like the rest of you, I’d love to see Canada capture the gold but parting with any money on our NHL greats could be very, very risky. Why? First of all, Canada’s best sniper Steven Stamkos will likely miss the tournament and that is a huge loss. Sure Canada is deep in every position, but snipers wearing Team Canada colours are few and far between. Who can play the right side with Sidney Crosby?
But there’s more. Are you folks aware Canada has not won an Olympic gold medal in hockey outside North America since 1952? Although Canada won Olympic gold in 2002 at Salt Lake City and 2010 at Vancouver, the story is quite different once Canada crosses the big water to Europe and elsewhere. In Italy in 1998, Canada finished fourth, and in 2006 in Japan finished a dismal seventh. Losing Stamkos changes the water in the beans as far as I’m concerned. In fact, this is one sporting event where my money stays in my pocket.
Live harness racing continues today and Sunday at Red Shores at the Charlottetown Driving Park. Post time for both days is 1 p.m.
Today, the drivers championship takes centre stage with drivers Ken Arsenault, Brodie MacPhee, Mark Campbell, Gilles Barrieau, Ron Matheson, Jason Hughes, Terry Gallant Willie Murphy and Harold Shepherd competing in eight races. The $1,750 feature goes in Race 12 and it includes from the rail out: Van Zant, Roscoes Child, Pinner, Blue Star Outlaw, Vernicavermillion, Stayoutofmyaffair, Sterling Seelster, Camcun and Tempo Seelster.
The Meadowlands opens tonight with a big 13-dash card at the New Big M track. The $50,000 open pace has attracted a field of eight with Foiled Again, Sweet Lou, Warrawee Needy, Bolt the Duer and four others. These horses come back for $500,000 next week. At Woodbine tonight, the card is available via simulcast. The $34,000 has a small field of seven with horses and drivers like Sparky Mark (Jody Jamieson), Piston Broke (Sylvan Filion), Bay of Sharks (James MacDonald), (Jack Moiseyev) and three others. The $24,000 co-feature shows a field of 10 with Aslan (Doug McNair) and Champagne Phil (Anthony MacDonald) who took a new record of 1:50.3 last week looming as favourites. Flamboro Raceway is also available today at 2 p.m. via simulcast.
Sunday afternoon’s live 13-dash card gets underway at 1 p.m. sharp. The $2,200 feature goes in Race 12 and it includes from the rail out Cambest Kisser, Doll R General, Blu Meadow Willie, Lucky Encounter, Bunny Mach, Machinthesand and Narragansett.
The Denver Broncos head into Foxboro Sunday night to face the New England Patriots in the NFL’s week 12 feature game. It pits two of the game’s greatest quarterbacks in Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.
Denver is favoured but let me warn you about betting against Brady and Belchick losing two in a row, the last at Foxboro. Thinking and betting like that could make you a permanent resident in a soup kitchen. Stay away from that game. Here are the games I like.
San Francisco 49ers (6-4) at Washington Redskins (3-7) – This is just what the 49ers need, a confidence builder for their offence against an opponent like the Redskins, who are horrible against the run and the pass. The past two weeks San Fran lost to New Orleans and Carolina, the Redskins are not in that class. The spread is five points if you like San Fran, really should be 15 or so.
New York Jets (5-5) at Baltimore Ravens (4-6) – Shake me for listening to the Jets fan club of Steve MacLean, Dan MacInnis and Jerry Leblanc last week. How can a team play giant killer and beat New Orleans one week, and then lay down like dogs in losing to Buffalo last week? I wouldn’t bet the Jets with confederate money. Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith has been terrible with five picks and zero touchdowns the last three weeks. The Ravens aren’t much to talk about but are trying to keep their playoff hopes alive. They’re tough at home and the run defence is solid. If you like the Ravens, you give up four points and that’s nothing.
Indianapolis Colts (7-3) at Arizona Cardinals (6-4) – Take another look, the Cardinals are in the playoff hunt at 6-4 and QB Carson Palmer has been on fire of late with 400 yards last week to key receivers Michael Floyd and Larry Fitzgerald. The Cardinals are 2.5-point favourites against a good Indianapolis team, led by Andrew Luck. The Colts are without Luck’s top receiver Reggie Wayne and to me that’s the difference. Give up the points and take the Cards.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-8) at Detroit Lions (6-4) – The Bucs have won two in a row at home, but now they come north against a Lions team that is tough to beat in Detroit. The Lions squandered a late lead at Pittsburgh last week, but that will not happen this week against an offensively challenged Tampa Bay club. The Lions are a very dangerous team with two good running backs and a terrific passing game. Look for the Lions to come out roaring in this one. The home club is favoured by nine points and that has me worried. Maybe I’ll just bet three games.
Fred MacDonald’s column appears every Saturday in The Guardian. To comment, email email@example.com