And then there were four
The CFL playoff semi finals have been and gone. Now there are four teams left to vie for the Grey Cup. This after the Montreal Alouettes held on to beat the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 28-17. While the BC Lions overcame the Calgary Stampeders 30-16.
Both teams have had to wait a while for a playoff win. Now, both teams managed to get that win in front of their own fans. With the Winnipeg Blue Bombers waiting in the West Final & the Toronto Argonauts waiting in the East, we have our final four.
Montreal – breaking the spell
When it comes to playoff football it was starting to feel like the ticats had cast a spell over the Alouettes. Prior to this win by Montreal, the tabbies had won seven playoff meetings in a row between the two.
Also prior to this win, the Alouettes hadn’t won a post-season game since 2014. Which was the last time they reached the East Division final. To compound that, they hadn’t beaten Hamilton in the playoffs since posting a 22-11 win over them in the 1996 playoffs.
Playoff losses to Hamilton had come in a range of ways. The Als had fallen to the ticats in 1998 (22-20), 1999 (27-26), 2001 (24-12), 2011 (52-44), 2013 (19-16), 2014 (40-24), & 2021 (23-12). With that history you know that, despite not being behind in the game, Als fans were getting twitchy when Hamilton pulled it back to 22-14 in the third quarter.
But now the Als are off to their first East final in eight years. And will be looking for their first East Final win since 2010. A year they won their second staright Grey Cup.
BC – getting back to postseason success
For the BC Lions this was their first postseason success since 2016 when they edged Winnipeg 32-31 in a thriller before losing to the Stamps.
Getting the win, and making the final four, is also a case of the Lions overcoming a string of postseason losses to Calgary too.
It is not as exaggerated as the Alouettes/Tiger-Cats postseason run of seven games. But the Lions had themselves contrived to lose on five straight occasions when meeting the Stampeders in the playoffs prior to this win.
Those defeats date back to the 2001 postseason. The Lions had fallen to the Stamps in 2001 (28-19), 2008 (22-18), 2012 (34-29), 2015 (35-9), & 2016 (42-15). Calgary scored first in this one, but after BC took the lead they never relinquished it.
The Final Four
Both the home teams won at the semi-final stage. So, things have gone according to seeding so far. But will that carry over into the final four? We are two games away from knowing who will challenge for the 2022 Grey Cup so let’s see how the Division Finals look.
East – In the East the 11-7 Argos will host the 10-9 Alouettes. The two teams finished first and second in the Division respectively. They have played each other three times this season. With Toronto winning by close margins 20-19 & 24-23. Before losing an end of season game when they were already in the playoffs by 38-33.
It looks like we should expect a close one here! Toronto will want to win having finished atop the East last year but falling at home to Hamilton. This is the first time the Argonuats have hosted back to back East Finals since 1996-1997. Which will invoke fond memories for Double Blue fans as they went 30-6 and won back to back championships back then.
West – In the West the 15-3 Blue Bombers will host the 13-6 BC Lions. The two teams finished first and second in the Division respectively. They have played each other three times this season. With Winnipeg winning 43-22 in BC & 24-9 in Winnipeg. The Lions pulled out a 40-32 win at home.
As a mark of recent Blue Bombers success, Winnipeg will be playing in their fourth straight Western Final. They are also hosting for a second consecutive season.
In Collaros and Rourke we should be seeing two season end award winning QBs helming their teams in this one.
Banner Image: Final four QB Mcleod Bethel-Thompson of the Argonauts. Image from sportsnet.ca
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