Stamps ready for restart in West final

WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:57 PM ET

All week, the Calgary Stampeders insisted they weren’t fussy about whether it was the Saskatchewan Roughriders or B.C. Lions coming to Cowtown for next week’s West Final.

On Sunday morning, however, Stamps slotback Nik Lewis logged on to Twitter to make a more specific request.

“I am cheering 4 a 6 overtime classic, don’t care who wins just get them real banged up and tired,” Lewis wrote.

Wish granted.

Kinda.

The Roughriders and Lions needed two extra-session series to sort out Sunday’s semifinal showdown at Mosaic Stadium, with Saskatchewan’s Jason Clermont scoring a major after a B.C. field goal to give the hosts a 41-38 triumph in what will be remembered as one of the most entertaining post-season contests in three-down football history.

The Lions needed a touchdown on the final play of regulation time to force the overtime period, and the two teams traded scores — and two-point conversions — on their first offensive possessions of bonus time.

“It was a great football game — the epitome of the Canadian Football League and the type of games and entertainment it can provide,” said Stamps head coach John Hufnagel. “I probably changed my mind on who I would have to be prepared for going into this week numerous times during the game, because the momentum definitely did change. It was a heck of a game.

“It was a game that either team could have won and either team could have lost.”

The last time the Roughriders made a trip to McMahon Stadium for the division final was way back in 1971, when the league semifinal was actually contested as a two-game, total-point series. The Stamps won both games, then toppled the Joe Theismann-led Toronto Argonauts in the Grey Cup game.

That same season, Hufnagel led the Penn State Nittany Lions to a victory over the Texas Longhorns in the Cotton Bowl.

Hufnagel, though, is more worried about recent history.

Like four weeks ago, when the Stamps travelled to Mosaic Stadium and silenced their watermelon-wearing fans by erasing a nine-point deficit for a 34-26 victory that essentially sealed the division title.

Or mid-September, when the Stamps and Riders treated those same fans to an overtime thriller, with the homeside escaping with a 43-37 extra-time win.

Or the fourth week of the regular season, when the host Horsemen scored four second-half touchdowns to register a 40-20 triumph in their only home contest against their green-clad rivals.

Despite scoring a 2-1 victory in the regular-season series, Hufnagel insisted Sunday night it’s now a brand new ballgame.

“The season series means nothing,” he said. “This is the Western Final. Saskatchewan is coming in here after a great win. Every game is its own entity — you’ve heard me say that before. Especially in playoff football, we have to go out there and play a heck of a game and forget about what has happened in the past.”

The Stamps will return to practice Wednesday, preparing for what’s also a rematch of last year’s West Final, when the Riders advanced to the big game with a 27-17 victory in Regina.

“I know the players are going to be excited,” Hufnagel said. “They’re probably relieved — as we all are — about (knowing) who is our opponent, who do we have to prepare for. Now, we can roll up our sleeves and do the hard work that’s necessary to be at our best.”


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