New Ticats kicker Kenny Allen is still a little hazy on the CFL rules and he didn’t know it was Canadian Thanksgiving on Monday but he’s already figured out the exchange rate works in his favour, at least for now.
“I bought something for $20 at my hotel and they gave more than $20 back in Canadian dollars,” said the American-born Allen after his first practice with his new club. “So that was pretty awesome.”
Allen was signed after an MRI over the weekend confirmed that Sergio Castillo suffered a torn ACL in his kicking leg in the win over Winnipeg on Friday. It’s an unfortunate setback for a player having a terrific season after finally earning a full-time CFL job.
“It’s very tough. He’s a real team guy and competitive kid,” said head coach June Jones. “You hate to see it happen to anybody but Sergio was a good teammate and they really loved him.”
The Ticats put Allen on the negotiation list Friday night shortly after Castillo got hurt then agreed to terms with the Flint, Michigan native on Saturday. He drove to Hamilton on Sunday and practiced Monday – though he had troubled crossing the border into Canada.
“I almost didn’t get in but that’s a different story. I think I look like a nice guy,” a smiling Allen said. “Hopefully I can get back home at some point.”
Hamilton has also brought in Canadian Brett Lauther, a former Ticat draft pick who played four games with the Ticats in 2013 – he went four-for-four in a Touchdown Atlantic win over Montreal – and has gotten looks from a couple of CFL teams this season, most recently Edmonton.
“We’re working him out and he looks like he’s got a live leg,” Jones said. “So we’ll see what the options are.”
Having learned how to win tough road games – the win in B.C. was pretty impressive, too – the Ticats get the league-leading Calgary Stampeders next week at Tim Hortons Field. But Hamilton has now won four of six games under Jones and are undoubtedly playing their best football of the season.
“The guys are coming together and buying in. After looking at the Winnipeg film, we don’t look like same team,” Jones said. “We’re so much faster, the guys are playing with so much more confidence. That’s all real encouraging.”
While win over the Blue Bombers gave their post-season chances a much-needed boost but the Ottawa Redblacks improbable 30-25 win over B.C. was a real killer for Hamilton. The victory preserved Ottawa’s five-point advantage for what is likely the East Division’s second and final playoff spot.
The Ticats still control their own destiny, however. If they were to win their remaining four games – including next Friday’s home date against the league-leading Calgary Stampeders – Hamilton will make the post-season.
“Ottawa looked good. They came from behind on the road which tells you a little something about them,” Jones said. “We didn’t get help we needed so we have to win.”
But things are increasingly precarious for the Ticats. A loss to Calgary followed by an Ottawa win in Saskatchewan later Friday night would eliminate the Ticats from playoff contention. A loss by both teams would force Hamilton to win their remaining three games – at Montreal, at Ottawa, home vs Montreal – to make the post-season.
Allen hopes to be a big part of that playoff run, assuming he can figure out the nuances of the CFL game and the city. And he seemed willing to make the best of the snap-Thanksgiving he found himself a part of Monday.
“I don’t know anybody so I hopefully I’ll find a Tim Hortons,” he said. “I heard the first one is just up the road so I’ll probably stop up there.”
When in doubt, head to Timmies: see, he’s figuring it out already.