Nik just can't Cope with loss

WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:49 AM ET

CALGARY - Nik Lewis and Jeremaine Copeland were commiserating together.

Again.

Although the longtime teammates and close friends were separated by an off-season trade, Lewis and Copeland chatted for about a half-h our after both endured heartbreaking losses in the CFL's semifinal round.

Copeland and the underdog Toronto Argonauts were eliminated in Sunday's East final, just hours before the Saskatchewan Roughriders knocked Lewis and his Calgary Stampeders teammates out of Grey Cup contention.

"He was really confident going in against Montreal, and I was really confident going in against Saskatchewan. He was confident for us, and I was confident for them. And we both lost," Lewis said.

"The positive he has is they can look at their season and say, 'We've turned it around here. We're moving in the right direction now, and we've got something to look forward to.'

"We're on a different scale here. It was disappointing to lose. I guess if you lose, everybody is disappointed, but for (the Argonauts), they can say they had a successful season. We can't say that. We didn't succeed this season.

"Even though people didn't pick us to make the playoffs, we feel like us not going to the Grey Cup was not going to be a successful season."

Less than 24 hours after a 20-16 defeat in Sunday's West Final, the Stamps returned to McMahon Stadium Monday morning to clean out their lockers and attempt to answer a question on the lips of so many.

Why?

Because the offence struggled to move the chains after building an 11-point lead midway through the second quarter of Sunday's clash.

Because the defence, despite a stout performance, spent too much time on the field.

Because guys on both sides of the football were flagged for unnecessary -- and often obvious -- penalties.

Because a trio of Stamps special-teamers couldn't get their fingers on a bouncing football after Riders returner Ryan Grice-Mullen muffed a punt with about three minutes remaining, with Stamps safety Wes Lysack accidentally booting it into the endzone before a guy in green recovered.

Because the Roughriders, as countless people pointed out in post-game interviews, simply made more plays.

After what was likely a sleepless night for many, Monday's mood in the Stamps locker-room was a mixture of sadness and shock.

"I never even -- and I'm sure a lot of us never -- had a 'What if?' scenario being in this position," said Stamps backup quarterback Drew Tate. "This was not in the plans."

Added speedy receiver Romby Bryant: "We obviously thought we were the best team in the league and were destined for the Grey Cup. It seems unreal that we're packing up and leaving now. I thought, for sure, we would be there, but stuff happens."

For longtime Stamps like Lewis, it's happened a bit too often. Sunday's setback marked the fourth time in five seasons the Riders have eliminated the Red & White from the playoff picture. After stuffing possessions in a garbage bag, it was clear Copeland's words of encouragement were only a small consolation to an emotional Lewis.

"It's a good thing we've lost before in this situation, because I know how to do it," Lewis added.

"It's a bad thing we're doing it right now. This sucks. Nobody wants to come in and clean out their locker right now."

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