New show ready for road

IAN BUSBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:36 AM ET

A year ago during the Calgary Stampede, the football team with a similar name was sent on the road trip from hell.

Two games in five days, in Regina and Toronto, with a three-night stop in Hamilton, saw the Stampeders whipped both times.

The opening road trip led to a dismal 2-7 road record as the Stamps limped to a 7-10-1 season.

The only road wins came in Edmonton at Commonwealth Stadium, so the schedule is much more favourable in 2008 because that's where the Stamps open their road campaign tomorrow night (8 p.m., TSN).

"This is a new year and (new coach John Hufnagel) keeps stressing that," said receiver Ryan Thelwell.

"If we want to get to that next level, we have to go in and beat certain teams.

"We can't look past anybody because they will be all fired up. We probably did that a few times. We went into Hamilton (in September) and looked past them a bit. We thought we were going to win the game because they had a poor record.

"We have to take every team serious, so that's what we're doing with Edmonton.

"It shouldn't matter where we play. We need to send a message to the West. To let them know we're for real, we have to win on the road."

The Stamps didn't win a game outside of Alberta last season, and their campaign ended in Regina to the eventual Grey Cup champion Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Whether the team was distracted by heading to party spots or couldn't handle playing in front of hostile fans, the Stamps were unable to figure out why they were a different team away from McMahon Stadium.

The team gets a fresh start this year under Hufnagel, who brought a focus on routines and discipline throughout training camp.

That structure will continue on road trips, starting tomorrow at Edmonton and a week from now in Montreal.

"On the road, you have more control over them," Hufnagel said.

"You get more meeting time, so there are good things that happen on a road trip.

"You actually get them the entire day of the game and you can have them in bed by 11 the night before ... I'm sure that happens at home, as well," he added with a laugh.

"There are some good things that can happen during a road trip.

"Obviously, the biggest challenge is playing in front of different fans and that's what a home-field advantage is all about."

It's long been said Montreal has an advantage because of the night life that city has to offer visitors.

So the Stamps give away a bit of their edge by not playing at home during Stampede when the city goes wild with parties.

Receiver Jeremaine Copeland said that probably isn't a bad thing to get away for them, either.

"We usually have one or two days to enjoy the festivities, but it is good to be away because there is so much going on," Copeland said.

"Guys can lose focus by staying here.

"As a professional, it's something you have to control. So it doesn't matter if you are here or away.

"But it's better that we're away."


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