Hamilton Tiger-Cats 2017 Season Preview

Hamilton Tiger-Cats 2017 Season Preview

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats head into the 2017 Canadian Football League Season with lofty expectations. 

The team had a compelling offseason as well as training camp, with big key moves to strengthen the secondary and a kicking competition in which it had question marks going into, and still now heading for the season opener. 

Here is the look of the three phases of the team….

Offense

Quarterback Zach Collaros comes into the season as the ace of the franchise. Despite the great talent and memorable performances ever since he dawn the black and gold, Collaros’ kyryponite has been injuries. In his past three seasons with Hamilton, the Cincinnati, Ohio native has never played a full season. With great talent and entering the prime of his career, Collaros needs to stay healthy. If he can accomplish that, both he and Tiger-Cats are destined for an oppurtunity to compete for the Grey Cup in Ottawa. Jeremiah Masoli has proven that he can be a primary insurance policy, but afterwards, there’s a logjam of third string quarterbacks. Everett Golson (currently on the IR), and Logan Kilgore will do recurring duties as the third stringer this season.

Running Back C.J. Gable appears to be more healthy than he has been since his stellar 2013 rookie season. After his respectable season last year, the USC alumnus will look to retain his good health, and put together a thriving 2017 campaign. If so, it will benefit not only him, but the Tiger-Cats offense that is counting on his production and protection. Ross Scheuerman will be the prime backup, along with second year Canadian Mercer Timmis. Carl-Oliver Prime 

The receiving core should be good this year. The core consisting of Terrence Toliver, Luke Tasker, Brandon Elliott, Mike Jones and Bryan Tyms should provide speed and reliability for Zach Collaros to ulitize. After a great showing at camp, Felix Laubert-Laussier and special teams ace Brandon Banks are the most notable backups for the receiving core.

Regarding the Offensive Line, this is the most important question for the offense this season…Can they consistently protect Collaros? All things considered, this O-Line is better than the previous years. The core consisting  Xavier Fulton and rookie Jordan Swindle anchor the blindside (Tackle) areas, while second year Brandon Revenberg and Ryan Bomben is at Guard, and Mike Filer in the Centre position. 2017 draft pick Brayden Schram and Landen Rice provide the backup.

Defence/Special Teams

At the Defensive Line, Johnathon Chick, Ted Laurent, Michael Atkinson and Adrian Tracy anchor the line that can cause a ton of damage and headaches to the opponents offense this season. Justin Capicciotti will serve as a primary backup to Chick and Tracy, and should be a beneficial contribute this year. Rookie D-Linemen Hamiltonian Justin Vaughan, first round 2017 pick Connor McGough, and Davon Coleman will play a critical role this season as they bring a lot of promise. Look for Evan Gill to also play a factor, when healthy.

For the Linebackers, Simoni Lawrence will anchor a tenacious trio with Larry Dean at the middle, and newcomer Will Hill at the SAM. Second year Terrell Davis and McMaster alumnus Nick Shorthill is expected to play a role in certain defensive formations throughout the campaign. 

In the secondary, Emmanuel Davis, prized free agent Abdul Kanneh, Craig Butler, and Courtney Stephen anchor what could be a special group that can cause repeatable damage to the opponents. Cornerbacks Justin Rogers and Richard Leonard will get to play a key role, while Ethan Davis and recent signee Aaron Berry will join Jay Langa and Mike Daly as valuable backup pieces, but just as important at special teams.

Under a familiar face in Jeff Reinebold as Defensive Coordinator, expect a lot of aggressive pass rush, and lot of in your face coverage this season.

Returner specialist Brandon Banks is looking to re-establish himself as the dominant special teamer he can be. Sergio Castillo overcame multiple kickers to win the kicking job after an impressive showing during preseason albeit there was no field goals.  With new Special Teams Coordinator Dennis McKnight, and the unit already showing great strides at camp and preseason, all good things can be delivered.

Prediction

Hamilton finishes first place in an interesting Eastern Division, with them going to the Grey Cup. If the team gets fully healthy down the stretch, they can contend as advertised for the Grey Cup, with the record of 12-6.

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2016-2017 HAMILTON BULLDOGS SEASON REVIEW COMMENTARY

2016-2017 HAMILTON BULLDOGS SEASON REVIEW COMMENTARY

In the 2016/2017 season, the Hamilton Bulldogs made significant strides this season. 

New coach, new jersey, restructured administration, and a major early season acquisition of Will Bitten proved to the revolving fan base that the Bulldogs are making a major push for the championship. 

Despite the hot start in which they, at one point, were seventh in the top ten CHL rankings in October, the team had a rough stretch from November through mid December. But by the time the holiday break ended, the Bulldogs caught fire.

For the majority of the season, the Bulldogs were not a consistent team. They played well in several winning streaks of four and five in several occasions in the year. But when they lose, they have a long streak of five or six games. In other words, they were hot and cold. Dawson Carty took over the starting goaltender job mid-February and didn’t totally relinquish.

The special teams were a downer for most of the year, but showed glimpses of what can become. The power play improved from the bottom five at the start of the year for three months to the top ten by the final week of the year. The penalty kill showed several bright spots, but wasn’t a consistent force, largely due to the discipline issue.

The playoffs were a roller coaster. Despite the early exit, the main core of the team (Luff, Strome, Entwhistle, Studenic and Roberts just to name a few) gained substantial key game experience in which they can utilize for a championship run next year.

At the end of the year, Bulldogs say farewell to graduates Niki Petti, Dawson Carty, and Michael Crammerosa.

If I could grade the team overall this year…I would give them a B. 

Barrie Colts 2 Hamilton Bulldogs 3

Barrie Colts 2 Hamilton Bulldogs 3

The Hamilton Bulldogs didn’t play their good style of hockey tonight. But they pulled it off in a semi-ugly fashion as they defeated the Barrie Colts 3-2.

Offense

The Bulldogs offensive unit were in “high noon” mode in the first eight minutes of the contest, scoring two goals in the process. However, despite the very good performance in the first twenty, the team stalled in the middle frame, and large part of the third, as they couldn’t shoot effectively despite the overwhelming number of shots. Furthermore, Barrie kept the pressure at their attack zone for most of that period, and eventually fought back to tie the game at two going into the third. 

Marian Studenic scored two goals and one assist, including the eventual game winner in the third, and was rewarded the first star of the game for his performance. Best performance I have seen him in his first year in the OHL. Brandon Saigeon contributed two points (1 goal and 1 assist), and team captain Justin Lemcke helped out with two valuable assists as well.

Defense and Goaltending

For the large part, the Bulldogs defense and goaltending of Dawson Carty was good tonight, especially in the final few minutes. They allowed only single digit shots in all three periods. Their scheme was very effective, and they did a very good job maintaining discipline. However, there were some shaky moments by Carty, but maintained great composure down the stretch.

Special Teams

In regards to the power play, the Bulldogs capitalized on their most of the oppurtunities in this game. They were 2/3 with the man advantage. On the contary to the penalty kill, Hamilton was above average in their four sessions in this game. In the late stages of the third period, however, they played their best PK of the year (in my opinion) when they had to minimize the Barrie extra attacker along with the man advantage for 90 seconds of the two minutes on the PK.
The Hamilton Bulldogs host Niagara IceDogs on Saturday and travel to Oshawa to take on the Eastern Conference leading Generals.

Jeff Reinebold becomes new Tiger-Cats Defensive Coordinator 

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats announced earlier Monday afternoon that Jeff Reinebold has been named as the new Defensive Coordinator. 

Reinebold has over thirty years of coaching experience in pro football, 13 in the Canadian Football League. The veteran coach came to Hamilton in 2013 as Special Teams Coordinator, and as a Linebackers Coach in 2014. 

As the Special Teams coordinator, he oversee the emergence of a superstar Kick Returner and fan favourite Brandon Banks, as he rose to the elite level of historic proportions in short, but ongoing CFL career. 

Barrie Colts 2 Hamilton Bulldogs 4

Barrie Colts 2 Hamilton Bulldogs 4

The Hamilton Bulldogs shook off tough start to propel the Colts with a strong second period, to hold off the opposition 4-2.

Offense

The Hamilton offensive attack was at its endless barrage tonight. Once again, they provided multiple scoring chances, but managed to solve the Barrie netminder with three unanswered goals in the second period. Two of the elite forwards of the team, Will Bitten and Matthew Strome, provided the scoring punch, with Strome getting his first ever OHL hat trick. 

Matthew Crammerosa provided support, and was named third star of the game for his efforts. Strome and Bitten were first and second stars of the game respectively. Rookie forward Marian Studenic was the recipient of the Hardest Working Bulldog of the night, as he showed efficient skill with the tenacity to provide oppurtunities to score.

As the game went along, the passing of the puck was much better in both second and third than the opening twenty. The finesse around the net was bit overwhelming though, as their decision making early on was average, given the number of oppurtunities around the vincinity of the Barrie Colts net.

Defense and Goaltending

Overall, the Hamilton Bulldogs defense was good, but not crisp in this game. The discipline was shaky (several minor committed penalties weren’t necessary) as well the coverage of the ice had its errors. 

Fortunately, the Hamilton netminder, Dawson Carty, was again great in between the pipes. He salvaged the defense with multiple timely saves, and had a quality performance.  

Give credit to guys like Nikki Petti and Stephen Templeton for standing ground for the club, and took the bait the right way. Hamilton clearly intimated and made Barrie look like fools.

Special Teams

Great job by the Bulldogs penalty kill unit in this game. Defenseman Cole Candella was the most notable defender in all of the penalty kills, as he dumped the puck out of harms way during the times Hamilton was down a man (best performance of the year). Overall, the Bulldogs PK cleared all seven attempts tonight without conceding a goal. 

Although the power play was not much of a factor to oversee, they managed to score once on just their three attempts. 

In all, the PK played a monumental factor in the outcome of this game.
The Hamilton Bulldogs hosts the Kingston Frontenacs this Saturday. Both teams are currently deadlocked in points as far as the Eastern Conference is concerned.

Hamilton Bulldogs 5 Oshawa Generals 1

Hamilton Bulldogs 5 Oshawa Generals 1

The Bulldogs delivered a commending performance in Oshawa as they beat the top ranked conference leaders 5-1.

Offence

Hamilton managed to score at every period, with majority of goals came in the second and third period alone. Forwards Will Bitten led the team in scoring with two goals and one assist, while Matt Luff (2 assists) led the supporting contributors in the game. Matthew Strome, Zackary Jackson and Luke Kutkevicius also scored for the Bulldogs. 

The team managed a lot of shots at every period. They overwhelmed the Oshawa defense with a plethora of scoring chances, especially in the first period. 

Defense and Goaltending

The defense and goaltending performance of this squad was both gutsy and commendable. The defensive unit had a strong outing, containing the Oshawa attack with near perfect success. In the third period, the Bulldogs managed to contain the Oshawa offensive unit to just six shots in goal, despite giving up a combined 25 shots in the first two periods. Discipline was good, as well as shutting down Oshawa when it needed the most.

Goaltender Dawson Carty had another solid showing in between the pipes in this game. He stopped 30 shots, with several great saves and a good poke checking. He has started to become a beneficial insurance asset for the Bulldogs. 
Special Teams

It was another great performance in both units of special teams for the Bulldogs. In the penalty kill, the squad showed effective tactics and they complicated the power play unit of Oshawa in all of the outings in this game. 

The Bulldogs had a great showing in the power play as well. They produced multiple oppurtunities at their attacking zone, eventually scoring a goal in their four tries in this game.
The Bulldogs faces off against the Ottawa 67’s on Saturday afternoon at 3:30 PM. This game will be televised nationally on Sportsnet.