Black-and-gold ring suits Bruce

TERRY KOSHAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:13 AM ET

HAMILTON -- Arland Bruce was holding his seven-month-old son, Akobi, during an interview with a reporter yesterday, nuzzling the baby if he started to fuss.

Bruce will be expected to carry much more for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats this afternoon at Ivor Wynne Stadium.

The acquisition of Bruce from the Toronto Argonauts in July worked like a charm for the Ticats during the regular season, as Bruce became the poster boy for the Hamilton offence, finishing fifth in Canadian Football League receiving and garnering the Ticats nomination for outstanding player.

But it's big games for which Bruce was brought in, and none are bigger than today's East Division semifinal against the B.C. Lions, the Ticats' first playoff home game in eight years.

"This is what you train for in the off-season, this is what you dream about in training camp, this is where you want to be," Bruce said. "Oh, it's still just a game, but the stage is set. You can just feel the environment change. This is what you play for."

It's a bit hard to believe Bruce is the same guy who drove Argos head coach Bart Andrus to feel he had no choice but to trade him. With the Ticats, Bruce is a model citizen, and he has made Andrus' decision look worse with his play on the field.

Whether Bruce is a big part of the Ticats' offence today -- running back DeAndra' Cobb ate the Lions alive during the regular season and could be the integral piece starting just after 1 p.m. if Hamilton head coach Marcel Bellefeuille likes what he sees in the ground game -- remains to be seen.

But Bruce will be there if needed. With 10 touchdowns, he was just one of two CFLers, along with the Calgary Stampeders' Jeremaine Copeland (12), who hit double digits in receiving TDs in 2009.

HARD WORKER

"He has been all that we expected," Ticats general manager Bob O'Billovich said. "When I talked to (Argos GM) Adam Rita, he said Arland could run all day. He has been a hard worker and the consummate pro for us."

This will mark the seventh time in eight seasons that Bruce has participated in the playoffs. He has a Grey Cup ring from 2004 with the Argos.

"There would not be a better story told than to have a black-and-gold ring," Bruce said. "But all I am worried about right now is B.C."

TERRY.KOSHAN@SUNMEDIA.CA


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