HAMILTON - For linebacker Simoni Lawrence and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, silence is indeed golden.
The gregarious Lawrence and his teammates have quietly gone about their business this week preparing to host Montreal in the East Division final Sunday. They've refused to become embroiled in a war of words with Alouettes linebacker Bear Woods and receiver Duron Carter.
Woods and Carter both boldly predicted following Montreal's 50-17 East semifinal win over B.C. on Sunday that the Alouettes would beat Hamilton in the conference final. The two teams square off again just two weeks after the Ticats clinched first in the division with a 29-15 home victory over the Als.
"For me, it's personal," Carter said. "I want to beat them.
"I don't like them. They're stopping me from going where I need to go."
Added Woods: "That's regular season. They won that one. We're going to win this one."
But Lawrence wasn't biting Thursday.
"Honestly, we just don't need to talk," Lawrence said following the Ticats' practice. "I talk to a lot of players around the league . . . I know what people think about our defence, I know how people respond to our defence.
"There's no need to try and prove anything. We don't have anything to prove . . . we're playing in the East final, we're doing what we're supposed to do. What can you say?"
The two teams ended the regular season tied atop East Division with 9-9 records but Hamilton secured first based upon point differential. The first-place finish also earned the Ticats home-field advantage for the conference final, which is worth noting because they're 6-0 at Tim Hortons Field.
There's plenty riding on Sunday's game as the winner will represent the East in the Grey Cup on Nov. 30 in Vancouver. Hamilton is the defending East Division champion and is looking to return to the CFL title game after losing last year's finale 45-23 at Mosaic Stadium to the home-town Saskatchewan Roughriders.
Hamilton is also hosting the East Division final for the first time since 1998 and is chasing its first Grey Cup victory since 1999. Montreal hasn't been to the CFL's championship game since winning it in 2010.
The Alouettes also haven't earned a road win against Hamilton since September 2010.
If Woods and Carter are trying to get under the Ticats' skin, running back Nic Grigsby says it's not working.
"It's not about us having a quiet confidence . . . it's moreso focus and being humble about our situation and respecting our opponent," Grigsby said. "We're going to respect them regardless of now much they're talking.
"They're a great football team but we're going to show up Sunday. That's all it is. We're going to strap up, they're going to strap up and whoever is going to come with it is going to come with it. It's going to be fun."
Kent Austin, Hamilton's coach and GM, said he hasn't told his players to take a vow of silence this week because, quite simply, he never has to.
"I've not talked to my team at all about the approach they should take," he said. "They know what the expectations are here.
"That's just kind of how our guys are wired. They (Als) are wired differently, that's fine. I mean, we don't really care."
"We're self-motivated, we do what we think is right," he said. "Coaches will have our backs 100 per cent however we want to carry a situation.
"What do we need to say to them?"
NOTES — Delvin Breaux wasn't a full participant in Thursday's practice. Austin said the Ticats' cornerback has a minor nagging ailment — he wouldn't specify what it is — but that Breaux will play Sunday. Austin wasn't quite so optimistic about veteran slotback Andy Fantuz (hamstring), who practised but with the scout team. "He didn't work any with the offence so that's not good. It's probably looking more doubtful, honestly but we'll see." . . . After practising indoors three straight days, the Ticats are scheduled to head outdoors Friday for a closed session . . . The Ticats announced Thursday every ticket for the East final has been sold . . . Mike Kelly, a former head coach of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, was named the Middle Atlantic Conference's coach of the year after leading Widener University to a school-record 10 straight wins. Widener is a Division III school. Kelly served as Winnipeg's head coach in '09, posting a 7-11 record before being fired.
By Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press