No AC! That's not cool TicatsArgonauts blaming Ticats for sabotaging the air conditioning in their dressing room
By STEVE BUFFERY, QMI Agency
|Tiger-Cats receiver Andy Fantuz celebrates after a touchdown during the first half of last night's game at steamy Ivor Wynne Stadium in Hamilton. Or maybe Fantuz was just having a good chuckle that the opposing Argonauts were melting in their dressing room with the air conditioning not working.
HAMILTON, ONT. - They say desperate times call for desperate measures.
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats, hot under the collar after starting the regular season 0-2, apparently took that expression to heart on Saturday night at Ivor Wynne Stadium against the hated Toronto Argonauts.
In a move described by one Toronto official as bush league, the Argos discovered prior to the game that the visitors dressing room at Ivor Wynne was oppressively hot, and that there was no working air conditioner. The feeling with the Toronto camp was that the Ticats purposely set it up so that there was no cooling unit in the room. The Argos had to dispatch somebody in the hours leading up to game time to find and rent a portable AC unit. Until then, all the players could do was hydrate like mad ... and think cool thoughts.
"The temperature inside the dressing room was 10 degrees hotter than outside," said the official. "All that heat drains the energy out of the players."
Game time temperature was close to 32C. One CFL player agent tweeted that Ivor Wynne was "stickier than the floor of a Bangkok whorehouse."
And guess what? The Argos were lethargic and sluggish in the first half. Gone was the offensive magic displayed by quarterback Ricky Ray, who threw for 407 yards in a 39-36 win over the Calgary Stampeders at the Rogers Centre last week but managed only 232 on Saturday. The Argos couldn't get anything going early as the Ticats jumped to a 21-0 lead and held on for a 36-27 win.
In the second half, the Argos appeared to get some energy back, holding Hamilton to seven points while scoring 14. But it wasn't enough.
"Yeah, it was pretty warm in there," said Ray, when asked about the heat inside the locker room. "But that's what you get used to in the CFL. There's some pretty bad visitors locker rooms and that's what you expect on the road. You don't expect it to be nice and comfy for you."
Still, Argos head coach Scott Milanovich refused to use the heat in the locker room as an excuse for the team's poor first half. Ticats wide receiver Chris Williams did more to sink the Argos than the heat.
It's still very early in the season , but Saturday's game was a big one for Toronto, who desperately want to put itself in the position to get into the Grey Cup, which it is hosting this season.
Heading into Saturday's game, the Ticats were a hurting team, the Argos were on a high.
Hamilton had lost two straight to start the year, and ranked at the bottom of the CFL in a number of defensive categories. Hamilton was feeling the pressure in a big way, beyond the fact that it started the season poorly. On a Montreal radio station last week player agent Darren Gill suggested that there was trouble inside the Ticats dressing room and that head coach George Cortez and defensive coordinator Casey Creehan were clashing, something both coaches poured cold water on. Gill later apologized, but the damage was done. The Argos, meanwhile, were feeling good about their home-opener win against the Calgary Stampeders last Saturday.
But sometimes desperation overcomes momentum.
Whether the pre-game sauna bath had anything to do with it, the Argos were a shadow of the team that held on to beat the Stamps last week, at least in the first half, while Hamilton looked anything but doormats, and suddenly it looks like a three-horse race to win the East, between the Ticats, Argos and Montreal Alouettes .
This is a huge year for both Toronto and Hamilton. The Argos, of course, want to make it to their home Grey Cup. Hamilton wants to solidify their fan base. This is their last season at old Ivor Wynne. Starting at the end of the season, the rickety grand dame of the CFL will be torn down and replaced by a new one in time for the 2015 Pan Am Games. However, the Ticats have to play elsewhere next year and want to retain as many as their season ticket holders as they can -- even though it hasn't been officially determined where they will play their "home" games next season. Saturday's win over a listless Argos team was a good start.