Welcome to the Canadian Football League playoffs, where every game, for every team, amounts to a do-or-die scenario.
For the red-hot Hamilton Tiger-Cats, they have practically been in win-or-go-home mode for the last third of the season after a sluggish start to the 2022 campaign.
On Sunday, the Ticats (8-10) will take their four-game winning streak into Montreal (9-9) when they battle the Alouettes in the CFL’s East Division Semifinal.
CHML’s coverage of the game begins with the pregame show at 12 p.m. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. A half-hour after the final whistle, catch The 5th Quarter postgame show on CHML radio, CHML’s Facebook page and online at 900chml.com.
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Hamilton stumbled out of the gate by losing their first four games of the season, and the club was 3-9 after a 28-8 loss on Labour Day against the Toronto Argonauts.
That game turned out to be rock bottom for the Ticats in 2022. But since then Hamilton has won five of their last six contests, including the final four games of the regular season and enter the post-season as the hottest team in the CFL.
Among those four consecutive victories were Hamilton’s first two wins away from home in 2022, in Calgary and in Ottawa. If the Cats have any hope of playing in the Grey Cup in Regina on Nov. 20 they will have to win two more contests on the road, starting Sunday at Percival Molson Stadium.
“Their crowd is definitely going to play a factor,” said Ticats head coach Orlondo Steinauer when asked about the challenges of playing a playoff game in Montreal. “It’s always a tough place to play. It gets really loud in there and we’re trying to prepare the best we can for that.”
The Tiger-Cats and Alouettes met three times during the regular season and the home team won on each occasion.
Hamilton topped Montreal 24-17 on July 28 at Tim Hortons Field but dropped both games in Montreal, falling 29-28 on Aug. 20 and losing 23-16 on Sept. 23.
Hamilton and Montreal have met 27 times in the playoffs dating back to 1953. The Tiger-Cats have won 18 games and the Alouettes have been victorious on nine occasions. The Ticats also sport a record of 13-6 in playoff games in Montreal.
3 quick stats:
- The Tiger-Cats and Alouettes each own the two longest, active Grey Cup droughts. Hamilton was last crowned CFL champions in 1999, a drought of 21 years. Montreal has not won the Cup since 2010.
- Hamilton can reach the East Final for the fourth straight year with a win over the Alouettes. That would match a feat the team last accomplished from 1983-1986. The Ticats have won their last four division semifinal games against the Al’s in 2021, 2013, 2011 and 2001. The Alouettes last beat Hamilton in a semifinal game in 1996,.
- With a loss on Sunday, Montreal would become the first team in CFL history to lose three consecutive division semifinal games on home turf. The Alouettes are 8-5 all-time at home in division semifinals but have lost the last two seasons in 2021 and 2019, against Hamilton and Edmonton, respectively.