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Toronto Argos face Winnipeg Blue Bombers in Grey Cup game today. Here’s what you need to know

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The Toronto Argonauts are set to face off against the two-time defending champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the Grey Cup game tonight in Regina.

The Argos are making their first appearance in the CFL’s biggest game since they won the cup in 2017.

Meanwhile, the Bombers have been the most dominant team in Canadian football for the past three seasons, winning the cup in 2019 and 2021, while posting a league-best 15-3 record this year.

Here’s everything you need to know about the 109th Grey Cup.

THE ARGOS

This isn’t the first time the Argos have come into a Grey Cup game as underdogs facing a juggernaut. In fact, it’s a scenario McLeod Bethel-Thompson has lived before.

The Toronto quarterback had a front-row seat five years ago when an upstart Argos squad registered a huge Grey Cup upset.

Veteran Ricky Ray earned a record fourth CFL title win as a starter, guiding the Double Blue (9-9) to a stunning 27-24 win over the Calgary Stampeders (league-best 13-4-1) at Ottawa’s TD Place Stadium.

Now Bethel-Thompson will have a chance to make history repeat itself, this time as a starter.

The Argos quarterback led the CFL in passing (career-best 4,731 yards) and anchored the league’s second-ranked aerial attack (279.3 yards per game).

And he exorcised some playoff demons last weekend when he completed 19-of-27 passes for 299 yards and two touchdowns in leading Toronto past the Montreal Alouettes 34-27 in the East Division final.

Bethel-Thompson and the Argos lost to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the East Final at BMO field last year after blowing a 12-0 lead in the first half.

“Quarterbacks are measured by championships. I consider myself a good quarterback. I guess you could say I’m excited more than anything,” Bethel-Thompson told reporters earlier this week in Regina.

“The reward for hard work is more hard work so I get to watch film and play a football game. That’s the most exciting part.”

The Argos will have some extra offensive fire-power for the second straight week after veteran Canadian running back Andrew Harris returned from what was thought to be a season-ending injury.

He rejoined the Argos’ lineup in time for last weekend’s win over Montreal, rushing for 42 yards on nine carries while scoring his first touchdown of 2022.

Harris will complement East Division all-star A.J. Ouellette, who ran for 516 yard (5.3-yard average) during the regular season. Against Montreal, the two helped Toronto rush for 101 yards on 23 carries (4.4-yard average).

Tonight’s game is personal for Harris, who was a core member of the Blue Bombers championship teams of 2019 – when he was named Grey Cup MVP – and 2021 before signing with the Argos in the off-season.

“When I look at the full spectrum and everything that’s happened in the last five years to now, it’s amazing. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have this date, [this] Grey Cup circled in my mind,” said Harris.

On the defensive side, Toronto will have to piece things together without Wynton McManis. The star linebacker, who had a team-high 88 tackles and was the Argos’ nominee for top defensive player, sustained an upper-body injury in the East Division final.

The Argos have a tough task ahead of them, but they have some history working in their favour. They’ve won their last six Grey Cup appearances (between 1991-2017), their last championship loss coming in a 38-26 decision to Edmonton in 1987 at B.C. Place Stadium.

“We’re playing in [the Grey Cup game], so I think we’ve made some positive strides as an organization these past few years. Last year we came up just short to play in this game, so I think we’re moving in the right direction,” head coach Ryan Dinwiddie told reporters on Wednesday.

Already the most successful CFL franchise of all time, the Argos can add Grey Cup number 18 to the trophy case with a win.

THE BOMBERS

The Blue Bombers are a stellar 6-0 in the playoffs over the past three seasons with veteran Zach Collaros under centre.

Collaros was once again a big part of Winnipeg’s success this season. The 34-year-old threw a CFL-best 37 touchdown passes and won 15-of-17 regular season starts.

“He’s the best quarterback in the league, he’s a tremendous leader and a tremendous competitor,” said Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea on Wednesday.

Grey Cup 2021

And Collaros has multiple weapons at his disposal.

Rookie Dalton Schoen proved to be Collaros’ favourite target, leading the CFL in receiving yards (1,441) and touchdowns (16) while averaging a stellar 20.6 yards for each of his 70 receptions. Canadian Nic Demski had 10 TD grabs while Rasheed Bailey (63 catches, 729 yards, nine TDs) was also a factor in Winnipeg’s receiving corps.

But Winnipeg’s offence can do more than just throw the football. The Bombers were the CFL’s second-ranked rushing team, averaging 113.5 yards per game.

The Bombers led the CFL in offensive TDs (58), passing TDs (44), passing efficiency (116.6), average per attempt (9.6 yards) and were second in offensive scoring (28.2 points per game). They also did a good job of protecting Collaros, allowing the second-fewest sacks (29).

Collaros will look to lead his team to a third straight Grey Cup victory, a feat not accomplished in the CFL since the 1980s.

But he may need to play through some pain to get it done. He suffered a minor ankle injury during the West Division Final that kept him out of Winnipeg’s Wednesday and Thursday practices.

THE 109th GREY CUP

This 109th Grey Cup is being played tonight at Mosaic Stadium in Regina.

It’s the fourth time in Grey Cup history that the game is being played in Saskatchewan’s capital.

The halftime show will feature a trio of country music stars; Canadian Josh Ross, Jordan Davis and Tyler Hubbard of Florida Georgia Line.

“Growing up, football was everything, and like so many young Canadians, the Grey Cup was the goal. Injuries led me on a different path, and now, music is my greatest passion and the stage is where I’m living my dreams,” Ross said in a press release earlier this month.

Most pundits favour the Bombers to win the game, but the two squads played each other close in the regular season.

They matched-up just once, in week four, when Winnipeg escaped BMO field with a 23-22 victory.

The 109th Grey Cup kicks off at 6 p.m. EST on TSN.

With files from the Canadian Press 

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Tiger Woods had a tough opening round at The 152nd Open Championship

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Tiger Woods encountered difficulties during the opening round of The 152nd Open Championship at Royal Troon, finishing with an 8-over-par 79. Despite a promising beginning, including a birdie on the third hole, Woods struggled to find consistency throughout the round. His iron play and putting were particularly problematic, contributing to a series of bogeys and double bogeys.

Woods’ performance saw him slightly above average off the tee and around the green. However, he lost over two strokes to the field in both approach play and putting, ranking near the bottom in these categories. This marks a significant challenge for the 15-time major champion, especially considering the competitive field and the demanding conditions at Royal Troon.

Reflecting on his round, Woods admitted, “I didn’t do a lot of things right today. I didn’t hit my irons very close, and I didn’t give myself a whole lot of looks today. I need to shoot something in the mid-60s tomorrow to get something going on the weekend.” He emphasized the need for a strong performance on Friday to make the cut and remain in contention.

Woods, 48, has shown determination and resilience, competing in all four majors this year for the first time since his serious car accident in 2021. Despite physical limitations, he believes he can still contend for major titles under the right conditions. His performance on Thursday puts him in a challenging position, requiring a significant turnaround in the second round to stay in the tournament.

As Woods prepares for Friday’s round, his focus remains on improving his game and making the cut. Fans and analysts alike will be watching to see if he can achieve the remarkable recovery needed to advance and compete over the weekend. Woods’ journey at The 152nd Open Championship continues to be a testament to his enduring skill and competitive spirit.

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NBA Returns to Montreal with Raptors vs. Wizards Pre-Season Game

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Montreal, QC – The NBA is set to make an exciting return to Montreal. The league announced on Thursday that the Toronto Raptors will face off against the Washington Wizards at the Bell Centre on October 6, marking the 10th edition of the NBA Canada Series.

This annual series has featured 15 teams playing 18 pre-season games across six Canadian cities. Notably, this will be the eighth NBA Canada Series game in Montreal, the highest for any city outside the Raptors’ usual home in Toronto.

Last year, Montreal fans witnessed the Detroit Pistons take on the Oklahoma City Thunder, featuring Canadians Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Luguentz Dort. The Raptors’ previous game in Montreal was in 2022.

This year’s game will be particularly special as it will showcase several Canadian players. Montreal natives Chris Boucher and Quincy Guerrier are both on the Raptors’ training camp roster. Additionally, Kelly Olynyk and RJ Barrett, who are set to represent Canada at the upcoming Summer Olympics, are also expected to play for the Raptors.

The Wizards bring their own Canadian connection with Kyshawn George, selected in this year’s NBA Draft. George, born in Switzerland, is the son of Montreal’s Deon George, a former member of Canada’s men’s basketball team.

The October 6 game will cap off the Raptors’ Montreal-based training camp, promising an exciting end to their preparations.

For more updates and coverage on the NBA Canada Series, visit Canada News Media

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Fafa Picault Leads Vancouver Whitecaps to Victory Over Sporting Kansas City

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Vancouver, BCFafa Picault emerged as the hero off the bench, scoring in the second half to secure a 2-1 victory for the Vancouver Whitecaps against Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday.

The Whitecaps (11-7-5) dominated the first half, with two goals being disallowed due to offside calls. Vancouver’s breakthrough came in the 34th minute when Kansas City defender Robert Valoder accidentally scored an own goal, giving the ‘Caps a 1-0 lead.

Sporting Kansas City (6-14-5) showed more vigor in the second half, equalizing in the 69th minute with a goal from Willy Agada. However, Picault’s decisive goal in the 76th minute ensured the Whitecaps extended their unbeaten streak in Major League Soccer (MLS) to five games (4-0-1).

Yohei Takaoka delivered an outstanding performance with 16 saves for Vancouver, while Tim Melia made 12 stops for Kansas City, whose three-game winning streak came to an end.

First Half Dominance

The Whitecaps were aggressive from the start, creating several early scoring opportunities. Brian White nearly scored with a header in the seventh minute, but Valoder cleared it off the goal line.

Ali Ahmed had a notable moment in the 27th minute, maneuvering past defenders to set up White for a goal that was disallowed due to offside. The Whitecaps’ pressure paid off in the 34th minute when Valoder deflected the ball into his own net, attempting to intercept a pass from Ryan Gauld to White.

Ahmed seemed poised to increase Vancouver’s lead eight minutes later, but his goal was also ruled offside. Despite these setbacks, Vancouver outshot Kansas City 9-2 in the first half.

Kansas City’s Resurgence

Sporting Kansas City made three substitutions at halftime, revitalizing their performance. Stefan Afrifa, substituting for Alenis Vargas, struck the crossbar in the 63rd minute, and Daniel Salloi’s follow-up shot was expertly saved by Takaoka.

Kansas City equalized six minutes later when Agada capitalized on a rebound after Takaoka’s save, slotting the ball into an open net.

Picault’s Winning Goal

The Whitecaps regained the lead in the 76th minute through Picault’s sixth goal of the season. Sebastian Berhalter, who replaced Ryan Raposo in the 67th minute, delivered a perfect cross to Picault, who headed it past Melia to make it 2-1.

Kansas City had a chance to level the score in injury time, but Erik Thommy’s free kick went over the bar following a foul by Mathias Laborda.

The victory solidifies the Whitecaps’ position as a formidable team in the MLS, with Picault’s performance highlighting their depth and resilience.

Stay tuned for more updates and coverage on the Vancouver Whitecaps at Canada News Media.

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