EDMONTON, Alberta (Reuters) - The Saskatchewan Roughriders have a chance to redeem themselves for one of the biggest Grey Cup gaffes when they face the Montreal Alouettes in the Canadian Football League’s championship game on Sunday.
A year ago, the Roughriders thought they had won the title when Montreal kicker Damon Duval’s attempt at a game-winning field goal sailed wide as time expired.
But Saskatchewan’s celebrations were premature as they were penalized for having too many men on the field, giving Duval a second shot at victory from 10 yards closer.
He would not miss and his kick from 33 yards lifted the Alouettes to a 28-27 win in one of the most bizarre finishes in the Grey Cup’s 98-year history.
“This 2010 season began at the end of last year’s game,” said Roughriders center Jeremy O‘Day. “To get back and play Montreal again is just icing on the cake.”
Two of the CFL’s most successful franchises over the past decade, the Alouettes are making their eighth trip to the Grey Cup since 2000 while the Riders will be playing in their third final in four years.
Nowhere in Canada are CFL fans more passionate about their team than in Saskatchewan where the community-owned Roughriders are the pride of the Prairies.
The green-clad Rider Nation, a cult-like following that extends well beyond the provincial borders, has descended on Edmonton this week for Canada’s biggest party savoring their chance at revenge.
But Roughriders coach Ken Miller insists last season’s heartbreaking loss will not provide any extra motivation come Sunday’s kickoff at a frigid Commonwealth Stadium.
“I think for those who talk about revenge or redemption, I have found through the years that is a very poor motivator,” Miller told reporters.
“From a Rider perspective, we would much rather think about what lies ahead of us and what we need to do as opposed to what happened to us.”
Montreal coach Marc Trestman, who has guided his team back to the final for the third straight year, also downplayed the revenge factor and refused to call it a rematch.
“It’s a completely independent event with two completely different football teams,” said Trestman. “We’re focused on this game like it was just another game during our season.”
While the Alouettes know their way to the Grey Cup they have not always been able to find the winner’s circle. In their last seven Grey Cup appearances, the Alouettes have hoisted the trophy twice.
The Alouettes are led by future Hall of Fame quarterback Anthony Calvillo, a three-time winner of the CFL’s outstanding player award who has called the plays in all of Montreal’s last seven Grey Cup appearances.
“We’ve been very fortunate to get back and win it a couple of times but we keep telling the young guys this doesn’t happen all the time,” said Calvillo.
“It’s not just because you dress up as an Alouette that you’re automatically going to be in this (Grey Cup) game.”
Writing by Steve Keating in Toronto, editing by Frank Pingue