Kyle Myers | Ticats.ca
HAMILTON -- It’s marked with an ‘H’ on the schedule, but the Tiger-Cats next home game will have a much different feel when they take on the Montreal Alouettes this weekend in Moncton.
“It really won’t feel like a home or an away game,” said quarterback Henry Burris after the Ticats first practice Tuesday. “One of the major things you value at home is crowd noise, but that’s something (neither team) will have to worry about.”
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Burris was still playing in Calgary in 2011 – the year of the most recent incarnation of the Touchdown Atlantic series – when he and the Stamps fell to the Tiger-Cats 55–34 at Moncton Stadium. Now the maestro of the Ticats offence, the irony of returning to Moncton in black and gold isn’t lost on the 14 year vet.
“Like, if you can’t beat ‘em then join ‘em, I guess that’s the lesson I learned from that,” joked Burris. "I'm excited to go back, Moncton is a fun place to play a big game like this. The crowd is exciting there, the fans are all pumped up for football. It's a great atmosphere."
Playing home games away from home is something the Tiger-Cats have gotten used to this season, with the team’s home games all taking place in Guelph. But that fact hasn’t slowed down the ‘Cats in the slightest, posting a 3–2 home record at Alumni Stadium thus far this season.
“The fan support up in Guelph has been unbelievable all year,” said defensive back Neil King, a fifth round pick of the Ticats in the 2013 CFL draft.
King is no stranger to the East Coast - he played four seasons at Saint Mary’s for the Huskies - and he admits that this particular game (as well as his alma mater's at the same stadium on Friday night) has been on his mind since making the team in May.
“This has definitely been one of the games that’s been circled on the calendar, absolutely,” said King. “There’s going to be a lot of friends and family out there, it’s going to be an exciting time. It’s something I’m really looking forward to.”
One major difference the Tiger-Cats must deal with in Moncton is the playing surface: While all eight CFL teams currently play on synthetic turf, the field at Moncton Stadium is natural grass. But King was adamant that the only thing on the mind of him and his teammates this weekend is the game itself.
“I haven’t played on grass in years, so it might take the first bit to get used to,” said King. “Once we get down there we’ll have a walkthrough on the field, feel out the grass, but it’s still just football. When it comes down to it, all we care about is how we play on the field.”
Coach Austin similarly downplayed the effect that playing on a neutral field will have on the game.
“To be completely honest, I hadn’t thought about (Moncton) that much,” Austin chuckled.
“At the end of the day we have two football teams playing on the same field, with the same lines and same markers. Our guys just need to play.”