HAMILTON -- It's never a good sign when a player starts barfing on his shoes in the locker-room.
A pre-game upchuck usually indicates an unshakeable case of the jitters, as it did last September when Calgary Stampeders placekicker Sandro DeAngelis paid homage to Mr. Goalie, Glenn Hall, with a pre-game puke before his first contest at Hamilton's venerable Ivor Wynne Stadium.
Born and raised in Niagara Falls, just 30 minutes down the highway, Ivor Wynne was like a second home to DeAngelis who attended Ticats games with his two brothers.
"Hamilton was my team growing up," said DeAngelis, 25, who was a disappointing one-for-three in field goals that night.
"I've never thrown up before a game in my life but last year, for whatever reason, it was like the culmination of all this hard work. All of a sudden, I was right back in the same place where I grew up as a little kid."
In addition to the flood of childhood memories was the rush of emotion he felt recalling an apparent snub by the Ticats a few months earlier. Before signing with the Stamps as a free agent, DeAngelis phoned Hamilton hoping to work out for his favourite CFL team but received the cold shoulder.
To this day, DeAngelis feels slighted by the gesture and although he won't name names, the man on the other end of the line was likely Tabbies special teams coach Jerome Erdman, who took over the role in 2004.
Erdman and the Tabbies are still searching for a reliable replacement for Hamilton legend Paul Osbaldiston, whose 18-year career ended after the '03 season. Current 'Cats kicker Jamie Boreham enters tomorrow night's game against Calgary with a meagre 60% success rate, second-worst in the CFL.
"I'd be lying if I didn't say I was (PO'ed) they didn't sign me," said DeAngelis, who played his college ball at Nebraska.
"I wanted to be a Hamilton Tiger-Cat. Now, looking back, I thank my lucky stars that I'm a Calgary Stampeder but, at the time, it was pretty emotional for me. Seeing the coach I talked to on the phone, I thought he treated me like a 13-year-old looking for autographs when I talked to him on the phone my senior year at Nebraska. I just felt very disrespected from him.
"Let's just say he didn't take me very seriously as if I was just some guy from a small college or beer league somewhere but I played at the University of Nebraska for gosh sakes, one of the top-five programs.
"It was a strange conversation and I'll never forget it."
Although DeAngelis faltered last September, he has since made amends, making all three attempts against the Tabbies in Week 3. He capped the night with a 45-yard game-winner on the final play before leading a memorable stampede to the locker-room.
DeAngelis is a sensational 94% on field goals this season and has kicked 15 in a row.
His only miss this year was a 45-yarder in the season-opener.
His consistency undoubtedly means the Stamps' 2005 rookie of the year will draw interest from NFL teams when he enters the option year of his contract at the end of this season.
"We're in the midst of talks and this is a really tough point in my life because I'd be lying if I said I wasn't thinking about the NFL," said DeAngelis, who has three friends in the NFL. "At the same time, I need to do some soul searching as to whether I really want to go down there or stay here."
EXTRA POINTS: Stampeders PK Sandro DeAngelis and DE Rahim Abdullah have been named CFL players of the week for their performances Saturday in Regina. DeAngelis was good on all six field goal attempts while Abdullah recorded two sacks and a forced fumble ... Saskatchewan Roughriders running back Kenton Jermaine Keith has been charged with aggravated assault after a nightclub brawl earlier this month in Regina.