|Winnipeg's Jovon Johnson during team practice at The University of Manitoba on Nov. 16, 2011. (QMI Agency)
WINNIPEG - You can almost hear Bud Grant and Cal Murphy harrumphing in disgust.
The robust, prairie-hardened Winnipeg Blue Bombers, preparing to host an East Final, chased indoors by a few flurries?
The former Bomber head coaches would have their long johns in a loop at the mere thought. But there were the Bombers, Wednesday, in the climate-controlled comfort of the indoor soccer complex at the U of M, while the mercury hovered just below the freezing mark, outside.
“There was a high chance of snow,” is how head coach Paul LaPolice began his explanation. “Game-plan day, when we put the pads on, we were going to fly around and set the tempo how fast we’re going to be. Now we’re going to take that outdoors for the next two days. These guys will be ready to play.”
Some of them were ready to practise in the snow.
“I’d kind of rather be outside, just so we can get used to how cold it’s gonna be,” defensive end Jason Vega, a Massachusetts native, said. “But we’re working hard in here, so it doesn’t matter.”
It’s often said the Bombers have a major advantage when hosting playoff games, largely due to November weather.
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats are practising in relatively balmy conditions this week, with temperatures around 10C. They played last week’s semifinal inside Olympic Stadium in Montreal.
The forecast for Sunday’s game, a noon start, calls for a morning low of -16 and a high of minus-6.
“Hopefully they got a lot of guys from the South that hate the cold weather,” Winnipeg defensive back Jonathan Hefney said. “We’re from the South, but we’ve been up here for a minute.”
Hefney, born in South Carolina, gets up every morning and sends his mother a text message, telling her how cold it is. He was happy to be inside for a day.
“We needed it,” Hefney said. “We got tomorrow and the next day outdoors.”