STREAMING CFL PPV Western Semifinal: Calgary Stampeders @ BC Lions, Nov. 6, 22:30 CET (10:30 pm, 4:30 pm ET)

VANCOUVER — BC Lions slotback Bryan Burnham never expected he would have to wait six years to play in another home playoff game.

“It’s been a long time coming,” the soft-spoken veteran said after a practice this week. “It’s about time.

“I’ve been part of some good teams that just weren’t able to get it done. To be part of this team, to be hosting a playoff game, man it’s awesome.”

A crowd of around 30,000 people is expected when the Lions face the Calgary Stampeders in Sunday’s Western Semi-Final from BC Place. The winner will face the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in next Sunday’s Western Final at IG Field.

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The 32-year-old Burnham, limited to nine games this year due to a broken wrist, cracked ribs and a collapsed lung, knows from experience how a team’s fortune can change from year to year.

“I’m definitely going to take advantage of our opportunity and cherish each moment,” he said. “This team will never be the same.”

The Lions haven’t hosted a playoff game since 2016, when they defeated the Winnipeg Blue Bombers 32-31 in the Western Semi-final. They would go on to suffer a 42-15 loss to Calgary in the Western Final.

Entering this season the Lions had missed the playoffs three times in four years.

BC and Calgary finished the regular season tied with 12-6 records, but the Lions secured second place in the West with two wins over Calgary.

Sunday’s game will feature two of the league’s most explosive offences and two of the most punishing defences.

The Lions led the CFL by averaging over 300 passing yards per game. The Stampeders, powered by league rushing leader Ka’Deem Carey, averaged over 135 yards on the ground.

Lions quarterback Nathan Rourke and Calgary’s Jake Maier will both be making their CFL post-season debuts.

Rourke led the Lions to an 8-1 record and was in the discussion for the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player award before suffering a foot injury in the team’s Week 11 win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders.  He didn’t return until the final game of the regular season against Winnipeg, where he played one quarter.

“I think I’ll be able to do what I need to do to be able to give the team the best shot to win,” Rourke said.

The 24-year-old finished his second full CFL season completing 255 of 324 passes for 3,349 yard and 10 interceptions. His eye-popping 78.7 passing percentage was the best in the league and his 25 touchdown passes were second only to the 37 thrown by Winnipeg’s Zach Collaros.

Rourke was named the CFL’s top performer five times and, despite missing half the season, is the West Division nominee for Most Outstanding Canadian.

Rourke’s injury forced the Lions to acquire Vernon Adams Jr. in a trade from Montreal. He finished the year completing 139 of 219 passes for 1,798 yards, seven touchdowns and three interceptions.

Maier took over Calgary’s quarterbacking  duties from veteran Bo Levi Mitchell in late August and helped the Stampeders win six of their final nine games. He  finished the year completing 207 of 277 passes for 2,389 yards, 14 touchdowns and seven interceptions. His 74.7 completion percentage was second only to Rourke.

“I’ve always said I’m an in-the-moment kind of guy,” said Maier. “I feel really good about this team and it’s formula.”

The Stampeders led the CFL by averaging 31.2 points a game while the Lions scored 29.2. The Lions defence allowed 22.5 points a game, third least in the league behind Winnipeg (20.6) and Calgary (22.1).

The Stampeders led the league with 56 sacks, 14 of them by defensive end Shawn Lemon, the West’s nominee as the CFL’s Most Outstanding Defensive player. Calgary also gave up a league-low 17 sacks.

Rourke described the Stampeder defence as “very aggressive” and “very good at what they do.”

The Lions will be without 1,000-yard receiver Lucky Whitehead and veteran left tackle Joel Figueroa on Sunday, both have been listed out with injuries.

Rourke still has a squadron of receivers to throw to including West Division all-star Dominique Rhymes, Keon Hatcher, Burnham and sure-handed Canadian Jevon Cottoy.

The Lions have also shown they can be successful on the ground, led by running back James Butler who finished with 1,060 yards, just 28 fewer than Carey.

“Their running back is really something else,” said veteran Lions defensive end David Menard. “He can break tackles, he’s fast. We’ve just got to make our tackles.”

The Lions two wins over Calgary during the regular season were decided by two or less points, with their Week 15 matchup needing overtime.

Rourke was hurt for the final two games against Calgary, including the Stampeders 25-11 victory from BC Place in Week 16.

“I felt like the last time we went there, no matter who was the quarterbacks, we made a statement,” said Stampeder middle linebacker Jameer Thurman. “I think a lot of those guys are going to remember what we did to them in that stadium.”

There has been bad blood between the teams.

Tempers flared after the Stampeders Week 15 overtime loss in Calgary. Stampeder linebacker Cameron Judge was handed a one-game suspension for an altercation with BC’s Whitehead, resulting in the linebacker missing the rematch in Vancouver.

Judge, named a CFL West All-Star, laughed when asked if the teams genuinely don’t like each other.

“No, we love each other,” he said.

Thurman said the Stampeders will have to keep their emotions in check playing before what is sure to be a loud Lions home crowd.

“We’re a pretty disciplined team and we understand what’s at stake,” he said. “We’re not going to let emotions like that get the best of us.

“We know what’s at stake in this game and we’re going out there to play football.”

AFI, Visaic and the CFL

American Football International is collaborating with Visaic and the Canadian Football League to present 2022 CFL games live. This is more than a livestream. This is a stream of the topflight TSN network television broadcast.

Watch the game live here PPV. Western Semifinal: Calgary Stampeders @ BC Lions, Nov. 6, 22:30 CET (10:30 pm, 4:30 pm ET)

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