Merry Christmas . . .
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers won the CFL title on Sunday, beating the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, who were playing at home, 33-25 in OT to successfully defend their Grey Cup championship. The Bombers also won in 2019; the CFL didn’t play in 2020 because of the pandemic. . . . This was a terrific football game, with a strong wind making the decision-making process that much more important and the passing and punting games difficult. . . . If you’re not aware, the CFL OT format opens with mini-games as each team scrimmages from the 35-yard line. Score a TD and you have to go for two. The Bombers went ahead 31-25 on a Zach Collaros to Darvin Adams TD pass, with Collaros then hitting Rasheed Bailey for the deuce. . . . Moments later, the Bombers sealed the victory with an interception by LB Kyrie Wilson. . . . This was the 108th playing of the Grey Cup game and only the fourth time OT was needed. . . .
The Bombers were trailing 22-10 in the fourth quarter. They got to within 22-13 with a 20-yard field goal, and 22-20 with a 29-yard pass to Nic Demski and the convert. . . . A rouge on the kickoff got the Bombers to within one, at 22-21. . . . The Bombers took their first lead of the game, 24-22, with 1:52 left in the fourth quarter when K Sergio Castillo booted a 45-yard field goal. . . . Another rouge on the kickoff stretched that lead to 25-22. . . . The Tiger-Cats pulled even when Michael Domagala hit on a 13-yard FG with six seconds left. . . .
Richie Hall, Winnipeg’s defensive co-ordinator, is one of the game’s really good guys. He now has won five Grey Cups — two with the Blue Bombers and three with the Saskatchewan Roughriders. . . . The 2009 and 2010 Montreal Alouettes were the last team to win back-to-back championships. . . . Winnipeg head coach Mike O’Shea is 6-0 in Grey Cup games — the two with the Bombers, one as an assistant coach with the Toronto Argonauts and three as a smash-mouth linebacker with the Argos. . . .
The Blue Bombers went through an early-season stretch where they struggled in the kicking game. That’s when they signed Castillo, who was with the NFL’s New York Jets last season. On Sunday, he kicked five field goals. . . . Winnipeg beat Hamilton 33-12 in the 2019 Grey Cup game in Calgary. . . . The Tiger-Cats last won the Grey Cup in 1999. They are 0-4 in finals since then. . . . In the next while, you are going to hear noise about Hamilton head coach Orlondo Steinauer perhaps going to the U of Washington as defensive co-ordinator and the Edmonton Elks wanting O’Shea as GM/head coach. . . . You also are going to hear rumblings about the CFL pooh-bahs studying all aspects of the game, including three-down football versus the four-down variety. Of course, a change to four-down would turn the CFL into a mini-NFL and that wouldn’t fly with Canadian fans, would it? . . . One of those Canadian things is the rouge, something that may seem minor but played a major role in Winnipeg’s victory on Sunday. The CFL doesn’t need to tinker; it needs to develop players — especially Canadians — so that it can provide its fans with more games like the one that ended the 2021 season.
So . . . the owner of the Vancouver Canucks fired six men last week, moves that will have impacted the lives of a number of people. And he takes to Twitter on Saturday evening in search of a few pats on the back! It’s all about priorities, in case you were wondering why this franchise wanders around the NHL wilderness like a dying man in search of water. . . . Yes, the Canucks now have won four straight since the regime change was undertaken. But a grain of salt, please — while all four victories were home games, three of them came against teams that had played the previous night while the Canucks were off. . . . Besides, four victories don’t erase the mess that Aquilini has been paddling through for the past few seasons. . . . The Columbus Blue Jackets are to visit Vancouver on Tuesday night. Vancouver then plays the host San Jose Sharks on Thursday before returning home to face the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday and the Arizona Coyotes on Sunday.
Recent headlines, courtesy of Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. . . . At @NOTSportsCenter: “Report Chase Claypool is still at US Bank Stadium celebrating his 4th-down catch, and is wondering where everyone went.” . . . At TheOnion.com: “Hiker trapped for days under fallen boulder survives by cutting off own ponytail.”
“A fan in Las Vegas took off her prosthetic leg and beat another fan with it during the Golden Knights’ 3-2 loss to Edmonton the other night,” reports Perry. “Lucky she wasn’t whistled for a gam misconduct.”
Perry, again: “Seattle just experienced its wettest fall in history, with 19 inches of rain between September and November. It got so bad, the Seahawks practiced swimming for a first down.”
Comedy writer Alex Kaseberg, on Chase Claypool’s strutting at a rather inopportune time on Monday Night Football: “It was the stupidest thing done in the NFL, besides saying, ‘Trade me to the Jets.’ ”
“Starting January 15, unvaccinated NBA players will no longer be able to play in Canada,” writes Janice Hough, aka the Left Coast Sports Babe. “Suddenly find myself hoping the Toronto Raptors end up in the playoffs.”
PANDEMIC NOTEBOOK: Ngozi and Kibo, residents of the Denver Zoo, are the first hyenas in the world to have tested positive. . . . The Chicago Zoo has had positive tests in a bearcat, a fishing cat and a coati. There also were two hippos who tested positive in Belgium. From a story by the National Geographic’s Natasha Daly: “They’re now part of a group of 315 animals from 15 species in the United States confirmed to have SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The list also includes cats, dogs, tigers, lions, snow leopards, gorillas, otters, a cougar, a ferret, white-tailed deer. (Infected mink, nearly all on fur farms, are not included in the total).” . . .
The Chicago Bulls are supposed to play the visiting Detroit Pistons on Tuesday. However, the Bulls, who are to play the host Toronto Raptors on Thursday, had nine players in COVID-19 protocol as of Sunday evening. They are down to nine healthy players, with eight needed to play a game. . . . The Raptors have their own COVID-19 issues, having put F Precious Achiuwa into protocol on Sunday as a close contact of someone who tested positive. As well, Masai Ujiri, their president and vice-chairman, tested positive late in the week. They are to entertain the Sacramento Kings tonight. . . .
The OHL’s Sudbury Wolves, who had 12 players come up positive, will return to action on Thursday when they visit the Barrie Colts. The Wolves, who last played on Nov. 27, had five games postponed while they dealt with the outbreak.
You may have seen video of Fox-TV’s 50-foot artificial Christmas tree in midtown Manhattan going up in flames on Wednesday. It was Stephen Colbert who pointed out: “Of course, it would never have happened if the tree had a gun.” . . . Vanity Fair, in the prelude to a story by Caleb Ecarma, noted: “Even though police haven’t ascribed a motive to the suspected arsonist, (Fox-TV) hosts and guests framed the incident as a ‘hate crime,’ part of a ‘war on religion,’ and emblematic of out-of-control crime. ‘No city is safe,’ said Brian Kilmeade.”
Mike Lupica, in the New York Daily News: “Nothing has changed on the subject of vaccinations: The idea that this has become a polarizing political issue and not a medical one is as dumb a moment as we’ve ever had in America.”
Lupica, again: “You can talk about the great Vince Lombardi and Chuck Noll and Bill Walsh, and Bear Bryant from college football. But in the history of coaches, there is Nick Saban and there is Bill Belichick and then there is everybody else.”
JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The Medicine Hat Tigers beat the host Red Deer Rebels, 4-3, in a shootout on Saturday night. That halted the Tigers’ 16-game losing skid. It also was the 393rd regular-season victory of head coach Willie Desjardins’ WHL career. Seven more victories and he becomes the 19th member of the WHL’s 400 Club. . . . There won’t be a 20th member of that club for a while, as the next active head coach on the list is Mark Lamb of the Prince George Cougars, and he’s at 264. After him, it’s Michael Dyck of the Vancouver Giants (237) and Steve Konowalchuk of the Red Deer Rebels (236). . . .
Back in the day, when Kevin Gallant was the vociferous play-by-play voice of the Regina Pats, you know that the Moose Jaw Warriors and Saskatoon Blades were Public Enemies Nos. 1A and 1B. Now Gallant’s oldest son, Matthew, is a freshman defenceman with the Warriors. His other son, Michael, was selected by the Blades in Thursday’s WHL draft. . . . Just in case you didn’t know that the hockey gods have a sense of humour. . . .
F Connor Bedard of the Regina Pats has made the roster of Canada’s national junior team as a 16-year-old. Mark Masters of TSN has Bedard as the seventh player to make the team at 16, the others being Connor McDavid, Jay Bouwmeester, Sidney Crosby, Jason Spezza, Eric Lindros and Wayne Gretzky. . . . The 25-player roster features 12 players from the WHL, including goaltenders Sebastian Cossa (Edmonton Oil Kings) and Dylan Garand (Kamloops Blazers), five from the OHL, four from the QMJHL, and two each from the AHL and the NCAA. . . . A complete roster is right here. . . .
Team Canada’s roster includes three returnees from the team that won silver at the 2021 tournament — Garand, D Kaiden Guhle (Edmonton) and F Cole Perfetti (AHL-Manitoba Moose). . . . Three WHLers — F Jack Finley (Winnipeg Ice), D Vincent Iorio (Brandon Wheat Kings) and D Daemon Hunt (Moose Jaw Warriors — were among the final cuts on Sunday. Hunt was released after he was injured while blocking a shot during a Sunday game against university players. . . . Team Canada will train in Banff through Dec. 18. It will play two exhibition games in Red Deer (Switzerland, Dec. 19; Sweden, Dec. 20). . . . The tournament, which is to be played in Red Deer and Edmonton, runs from Dec. 26 through Jan. 5. . . .
Apropos of nothing, I’ll just leave this here. . . . F Ivan Ivan, a 19-year-old Czech, has 30 points, including 18 goals, in 29 games with the QMJHL’s Cape Breton Eagles. . . . F Marcel Marcel, an 18-year-old Czech, has six goals and 18 assists in 22 games with his country’s under-20 side.
If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:
Living Kidney Donor Program
St. Paul’s Hospital
6A Providence Building
1081 Burrard Street
Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6
Toll free: 1-877-922-9822
Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney
Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre
Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street
Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9
604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182
Or, for more information, visit right here.