These are the games that you live for.
The games that make you fall in love with sports.
Do or Die.
Fight to the death.
You get the gist.
The Stampeders (4-11) will battle to keep their 2023 season alive this weekend when they face off against their West Division rival Saskatchewan Roughriders (6-10) for the third and final time this regular season.
Both teams are looking to find the win column for the first time since Labour Day weekend – that chance will come this Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Win, and they claim the season-series lead over Saskatchewan with a game in-hand. You can get your tickets to the must-win tilt here.
“You don’t get opportunities like this every year where you get chance after chance,” said linebacker Cameron Judge. “It’s time to take advantage of one and get this win.
“I try to be the same guy every day, have the same energy and passion when I’m out there, but when your life is on the line it adds a little bit more to it.
“It’s exciting and it should be a playoff atmosphere.”
» BUY TICKETS: Day of the Dino vs. Saskatchewan Roughriders 13.10.23
» Do or Die – Stamps vs Riders – 13.10.23
» Dickenson – 11.10.23
» READ: Day of the Dino
Punching a ticket to the 2023 Grey Cup playoffs will be anything but easy, however it’s a journey that Jay McNeil, Vice-President of Business Operations and longtime Stampeder, has done before.
In early October of 2001, the Stampeders found themselves sitting 5-9, an anomaly to Calgary faithful who were fresh off back-to-back Grey Cup appearances in ’98 and ’99, and a Western Final appearance the year before.
“We struggled throughout the year,” McNeil reflected. “We’d win one, lose three, win one. I think at the halfway point of the season, if I remember correctly, we were three and six. It was not great.
“I think what changed for us that year was we had a back-to-back road trip. We played Hamilton and then Toronto, so we stayed in Hamilton for the entire week in between games and there was nothing to do, so we hung out together every day as a team, and although I think we went and lost the next game in Toronto, that still bonded us, guys became tight and realized, ‘Hey, we’re the only ones who can get this done.’ ”
On Oct. 14, 2001, almost 22 years to the day when our ’23 squad takes on the Green and White, McNeil and Co. secured a 29-26 win over the Riders. With momentum on their side, the under dogs won three of their last four games of the regular season and went on to win the 89th Grey Cup.
“Very similar to this year,” began the two-time Grey Cup champion, “I think one thing you can say about our team this year is we haven’t quit. We fought right to the very end in every game we’ve played. Unfortunately, we’ve been on the losing end too many times, but I think we were a very similar type of team that we kept fighting.
“As hard as it was, because you do get pretty down as a group and you’re wondering if you’re ever going to pull through, and then all of a sudden something changes and you’re like ‘Hey, we can do this’. Then you start to build and believe in yourselves. So, I think it’s something very similar for us (now).
“Although, we haven’t won as many games as we would like, with all the injuries that we’ve had, all the young people that have had to step up and take significant roles this year, we’ve been in almost every game we’ve played.
“There’s something special there. Reality is we have to win some games and it starts Friday night.”