Ticats must pass Alouette test

FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:45 AM ET

HAMILTON -- If there is a monkey on their collective back, Arland Bruce III refuses to acknowledge it.

If there's a mental hurdle that requires clearing, the outspoken receiver isn't about to attempt a leap.

But for the Ticats, the road to the Grey cup will run through Montreal, a team that has run roughshod over Hamilton.

Barring a complete meltdown by the Argos, the Hammer will play host to Toronto in the Eastern semifinal.

The Ticats are getting better, beginning to establish an identity and have beaten the Argos three times during the regular season.

If Hamilton were to lose to the Argos, it'll be more a case of the Ticats beating themselves because there's no evidence suggesting Toronto can topple the Tabbies, at least not on the road.

The road block to Edmonton, site of next month's Grey Cup, resides in Montreal, a team that isn't bringing its best to the Hammer, but it's a team that has the Ticats' number.

"There's no monkey on our back, no hidden agenda," Bruce insisted.

"Anytime you haven't beaten a team, it's in you to find a way."

When they were coming off back-to-back wins over the Argos, including an emotional win on Labour Day, the Ticats laid an egg against the Als when Adrian McPherson filled in for an injured Anthony Calvillo.

Tailback Avon Cobourne (ribs), linebacker Diamond Ferri (hip) and kick returner Tim Maypray (family reasons) will not play on Friday for the Als.

The Ticats will usher in the debut of Kyries Hebert, who spent the past two seasons with the NFL's Bengals.

Hebert has one practice under his belt with the Ticats, but he's already made an impression.

"He was covering kickoffs with game speed," said Ticats head coach Marcel Bellefeuille. "He's an excellent football player whose role will evolve.

For now, Hebert will see duty on special teams, but he's a dominant defender who adds to Hamilton's depth.


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