Saturday 18 February 2012

A Look at Hamilton's 2012 Schedule

Amidst the frenzy of Fantuz's signing, the CFL released the 2012 schedule on Friday.

The season kicks off with Saskatchewan coming to Hamilton to play the Tiger-Cats on June 29th. That means that Andy Fantuz's first game as a Tiger-Cat will be against his former club.

It won't be long before we get a glimpse of the new Battle of Ontario, as the Ricky Ray-led Toronto Argonauts travel down the QEW to take on the Tiger-Cats in Hamilton in Week 3.

In Week 5, we will find out what kind of reception Rider fans will give Andy Fantuz as the Cats travel to Regina. Because of the Fantuz signing, Hamilton-Saskatchewan could end up being a very testy rivalry for the next couple of years, at least between the two fan bases.

Hamilton faces their toughest test when they play back-to-back road games against the Bombers (August 16th) and Montreal (August 23rd). Hamilton was unable to win in or against Winnipeg last season, dropping all four game (including the playoffs), and while the Montreal hex was broken in 2011 (Hamilton beat the Als three out of five contests, including the thrilling East Division Semi-Final), it won't be easy for the new-look Cats to take out the Als.

Fans can also rejoice, as the Labour Day Classic is back to what it is supposed to be. The Argos will head back to Hamilton for the annual meeting on the first Monday of September, and Hamilton will return the favour by heading to Toronto five days later.

After that, the team alternates between home games and away games, until the season comes to a close in Toronto on November 1st.

But maybe the most important day, or at least the one long-time fans will cherish the most, is the October 27th game against the Blue Bombers. That is to be, barring a home playoff game, the final Tiger-Cats game at venerable Ivor Wynne Stadium. My hope is for a huge crowd to send the stadium out in proper style.

Hamilton's schedule is actually very good. Only one road trip to Montreal, four games against the Argos, and only one two-game road trip. The team also plays the majority of their home games on Friday or Saturday, and not one game, either home or away, is played on a Sunday. For the final season at Ivor Wynne, it couldn't be set up any better more massive crowds. It's as good a schedule as could be hoped for, and it could portend to great things for the franchise in 2012.

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