REGINA - The regular season is officially on at Mosaic Stadium as the Saskatchewan Roughriders host the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in their home opener on Friday night at 7 p.m.
The opener is billed as Dad‘s Night Out, with Father’s Day happening on Sunday. A particular highlight at the stadium will be the Pepsi Summer Concert Series featuring Kim Mitchell performing at halftime.
As well, there will be a Rider Ball Cap giveaway for the first 5,000 dads coming through the gates. The gates open as of 4 p.m. for Party in the Park.
It is expected to be a sizable crowd for the home opener, with ticket sales picking up throughout the week to push the expected crowd past 27,000. Weather conditions are expected to be good, with the forecast to be sunny and 21 Celsius at kickoff.
Despite the festivities for the home opener, it is bound to be a somber atmosphere with events back in Manitoba weighing on the Bombers especially. Weighing on everyone's minds is the bus crash tragedy that happened near Carberry, Manitoba on Thursday, in which 15 lives were lost. Saskatchewan’s STARS air ambulance was among those first responders dealing with the emergency.
TRAFFIC TIPS FOR THOSE GOING TO THE GAME:
The Roughriders are warning fans to be prepared for congestion on the roads around Mosaic Stadium, due to traffic reduced to a single lane as well as the peak rush hour. The City of Regina is urging those heading to Friday's game to plan ahead and get there early.
The city says in a news release there will be traffic congestion in due to Lewvan Drive construction and the closure of Elphinstone Street for the game.
Fans are encouraged to take Rider Transit with several shuttle locations including Southland Mall, University, Turvey Centre, Downtown and Warehouse areas. Check the Riders website for maps and times of the buses at https://www.riderville.com/ridertransit .
If driving, the city encourages fans to go early and take in festivities at Confederation Park. Those not headed to the game are encouraged to avoid the area and plan alternate routes to get home.
The Roughriders and Blue Bombers are noted for their heated rivalry and for their clashes at the Labour Day Classic at Mosaic Stadium and at the Banjo Bowl back in Winnipeg, as well as at playoff time.
While this contest falls outside those dates, the bad blood certainly remains as demonstrated by a Twitter post put up by the Bombers prior to the game to get Saskatchewan fans riled up. It states: "honestly, Regina-style pizza is terrible."
Both these CFL teams come into the contest with 1-0 records. The Bombers won their home opener last week against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 42-31, while the Roughriders scored a road win to open the season against the Edmonton Elks 17-13. It was a standout performance particularly for the Riders defence, which included a goal-line stand late in the contest to stuff the Elks, whose home losing streak hit 18 games.
While the win in Edmonton got the season off to a positive note for the Roughriders, all the talk this week was about what happened at the end of the game, when quarterback Trevor Harris took a hard hit and was injured throwing a long pass on the final play while trying to run out the clock deep in the Elks zone.
There was much second-guessing from commentators and fans this week about the decision to leave Harris in for that play instead of bringing in a backup quarterback, or trying the field goal.
Harris suffered a hip pointer injury and missed a practice day this week. He is listed as a game time decision for the game Friday night, with Mason Fine and Shea Patterson next on the depth chart. If Harris can’t go, Fine will get the start. Quarterback Jake Dolegala, who was on the one game injured list last week, is now on the practice roster.
Changes from last week are injuries to DB Nic Marshall and DL Miles Brown, while wide receiver Derel Walker is on the six game injured list with a knee injury. Tevin Jones is in at wide receiver while Deontai Williams and Rodney Williams are in on defence.
The Riders are also hurting on the offensive line. They suffered a major blow with the loss of o-lineman Philip Blake due to injury last week prior to the Edmonton game. He is on the six game injured list, due to a torn pectoral muscle.