It’s “just facts.”
That’s what Kienan LaFrance told reporters on Friday afternoon when asked if it’s cliché to say a Canadian running back would be good at playing in the snow.
And in LaFrance’s case, the facts are these: 157 yards rushing and one touchdown in the Ottawa Redblacks Eastern Division final win against the Edmonton Eskimos.
It was a game played in a blizzard where the grounds crew couldn’t keep up with all the snow that was falling on Nov. 20, 2016.
According to Environment Canada, 13 centimetres, or 5 inches, fell during that playoff game.
Saskatchewan is expecting less than that tomorrow, with the snowfall tapering off around 5 p.m. kickoff, but the snowy days still take LaFrance back to his defining moment as a CFL running back.
“It’s definitely one of those games that are going to stick in the mind forever. Being able to go out there and perform as a team out there in these situations gives me the confidence to go and do the same things this weekend,” LaFrance said.
And while he may have had his best game in a snowstorm, that doesn’t mean LaFrance necessarily looks forward to the winter conditions. Though he said those conditions do tend to favour the running back over defensive players.
“You’re going to be soaking wet when you’re playing in the snow and makes you tough to be tackled so you got to use that to your advantage, keep running strong and just break off some tackles,” he said.
LaFrance is slotted behind Marcus Thigpen on the depth chart for Saturday’s game, who will be seeing his first reps as a tailback in the CFL in six years.
“Though it’s been that long in this league I did run the ball in the NFL as well so I’m ready for it. It’s like riding a bike,” Thigpen said.
Thigpen was picked up by the Riders midway through the season after primary returner Christion Jones was injured.
Before returning to the Riders, Thigpen had spent several years in the NFL with the Bills, Colts and Raiders. However, upon his return, Thigpen also found himself of the six-game injured list after taking just three punts in his debut.
“I got a little taste of (playing again) in Hamilton, coming back after sitting out for two years so to finally be out there this week I’m excited,” Thigpen said.
And he’s especially excited after seeing teammate Trent Richardson rush for 127 yards and two touchdowns last week and how well the offensive line has been blocking.
“I’m licking my chops for that and just being back out there. I feel like I’ve got a lot to contribute to this game and just being able to get behind the line because they’re doing really well – even in practice this week they looked good – so I’m just excited to see where we go this weekend.”
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