Ticats relish the thought

TERRY KOSHAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:47 AM ET

HAMILTON -- For four years, members of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats could only guess what it was like take part in a playoff game.

Now, they're ready to let their imaginations run wild.

"It's indescribable," linebacker Ray Mariuz said after practice yesterday at Ivor Wynne Stadium.

"There's no comparison with anything else I have felt here. There have been so many difficult times, and to turn it around for the fans has been great."

The Ticats are about as close to a guaranteed playoff appearance as possible. As long as the game between the B.C. Lions and Edmonton Eskimos does not end in a tie tomorrow night in Vancouver, the Ticats will be in the post-season, no matter what happens on Sunday afternoon when Hamilton visits the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

But the Ticats want to win their final game and bring home the right to play host in the East Division semifinal on Nov. 15.

A victory in the semi, wherever it might be, would equal the amount of playoff wins the Tiger-Cats have reeled off since capturing the Grey Cup in 1999 against the Calgary Stampeders. Since that Cup victory, Hamilton is 1-3 in the post-season, the lone triumph coming in the East semi in 2001 versus Montreal.

The road to success this year -- though we should remember the Ticats would finish with no better than a 9-9 mark if they beat the Bombers -- has several integral roots.

Head coach Marcel Bellefeuille hit the ground in stride after taking over last year, and general manager Bob O'Billovich made a number of solid additions to the roster.

The team's ability to jell has shown itself in the couple of weeks, as Hamilton has won twice after losing four in a row.

The importance of that can't be sloughed off, as the Ticats figure they're peaking at the right time and know they can recover when things go wrong.

"We've come out of the adversity quite well," Bellefeuille said. "The guys are confident and the blueprint is there.

"We've played good football the past three weeks in a row."

And as for Arland Bruce, he's fourth in receiving in the Canadian Football League with 1,173 yards, amassing 974 of those yards since the Argos traded him to Hamilton in July.

"He has stretched the field for us," Bellefeuille said.

Argos running back Dominique Dorsey, thanks to injury, was unable to re-discover the form that landed him the CFL's most outstanding special teams award last year.

On Oct. 10, in his fourth game back with the Argos after being cut by the Washington Redskins, Dorsey suffered a sprained ankle.

He still has not been able to practice, meaning he won't play Saturday against the Alouettes.

TERRY.KOSHAN@SUNMEDIA.CA


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