SUN Hockey Pool

Key Stampeders star shakes off Labinjo-ry in return

STEVE MACFARLANE

, Last Updated: 9:13 AM ET

Calgary Stampeders defensive lineman Mike Libinjo didn't know how his injured ankle would react when he got back out on the field.

It hurt, but the sack on his first play of the game took a little of the pain away.

"First few plays, I felt (the injury) a little bit," said Labinjo, after the Stamps' 37-16 win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers yesterday at McMahon Stadium.

Sitting out for three games, Labinjo made an impact early and set the tone for a defence that didn't quit even as the offence made sure there would be no late-game heroics by the Bombers this time.

In his first CFL start back in July, Ryan Dinwiddie picked apart the Stamps defence in Winnipeg and claimed a last-minute win.

Kevin Glenn was Labinjo's victim last night, but Dinwiddie didn't fare much better coming on in relief in the second half.

He, too, was pressured often, taken down by linebacker JoJuan Armour, as the Stamps worked feverishly on defence to prevent a major from being scored at McMahon for a third straight home game.

Dinwiddie did eventually hook up with wide receiver Romby Bryant for a touchdown, but the pivot later give way to third-string quarterback Bryan Randall, as the Stamps seemed to eat them up.

"The quarterback is the head," Armour said. "Any time you can take off the head, the body will fall. We went through three quarterbacks (last night), so we must've done something right."

They've been doing things right at home on defence for a while. It wasn't that way to start the season.

"After the deal we were going through early in the season about McMahon not being kind to us, I'm glad to see our players have responded," said Stampeders head coach John Hufnagel.

"They're really playing hard in front of the fans."

Wanting to have a chance to play in front of their fans in a playoff game, they need just one more win to guarantee a home date.

That's a big reason for the turnaround defensively.

"I think we've come a long way. This defence has a lot of pride," said Labinjo. "I think a lot of guys have taken it upon themselves to be a championship defence.

"For years, Calgary's always had the powerful offence, and we know if we want to get to that next level, the defence has to pick up the slack.

"That's what we're doing right now.

"It's something special that's going on."


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