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Big Blue proves defence wins championships

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Better late than never.
I finally watched my first CFL game of the season, Sunday, and what a game it was.
Of course, everyone knows by now the Winnipeg Blue Bombers snapped a 29-year drought, capturing Earl Albert Grey’s Cup with a convincing 33-12 win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
But it was the way they won it that was impressive.
First, just getting to the big game itself was quite a feat. The Bombers, who finished third in the West Division went on the road and beat the Calgary Stampeders, then they went into Mosaic Stadium and dispatched the hated Saskatchewan Roughriders, before beating Hamilton, the best team in the CFL during the regular season at 15-3.
The Big Blue defence was stellar throughout the playoffs and got better with each passing game.
They allowed just 14 points to Calgary and the Roughriders could only managed to put up 13 points, while the Ti-Cats mustered just 12 points.
There were those who criticized Winnipeg’s defensive co-ordinator Richie Hall mid-season, but he certainly showed his worth in the playoffs, as did the defence as a whole.
Winnipeg-born Bombers running back Andrew Harris was motivated for the game and it showed. He ran the ball for 134 yards and two TD’s, becoming the first player to ever win the Most Outstanding Player and Most Outstanding Canadian in the Grey Cup Game.
In fact, he is just the second Bombers player to run for more than 100 yards in a Grey Cup game in team history.
Football fans across the province are no doubt still celebrating and it will likely continue all winter.
But when you go 29 years without winning, who can really blame you.
Congrats, Bombers. Let’s do it again next year.
• • •
While the Dauphin Kings struggle to move up the standings, understandable given the parity in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League this season, there is one area that stands out as a potential hindrance to any playoff success they may have.
With the news that veteran goalie Duncan McGovern is stepping away from the game to deal with some off-ice issues, certainly goaltending is one area the Kings will need to improve if they wish to challenge for home-ice advantage in the playoffs.
But the team’s biggest need is scoring depth.
Of the 20 skaters currently on the roster, five players - Nakodan Greyeyes (14), Grady Hobbs (14), Cole Dekoninck (11), Carter Sawchuk (11) and Avery Smith (8) - have combined to score 58 goals. The rest of the team has just 17.
And, of those 15 other skaters, nine are still looking for their first goal of the campaign.
Granted some of those players have seen limited ice time and some have been or are on the injured list.
But the Kings won’t be going anywhere come playoff time, if they don’t get some kind of offensive contribution from the bottom six forwards.
That is something head coach and general manager Doug Hedley should look to rectify before it’s too late.

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Doug Zywina
REPORTER