Moving on with our Three Stars series, here's a look at the top performers of Week 17 in the CFL.
First Star: Keon Raymond, linebacker, Calgary Stampeders: Saturday's snow game between Calgary and Hamilton was an opportunity for defences to shine, as there were six interceptions and three fumbles in the slippery conditions (which probably also played a role in the botched hold that ended it with a loss for the Tiger-Cats). Only two of those turnovers were committed by Hamilton, but Raymond was responsible for one of them, and he definitely had the most spectacular play of the day, picking off a pass from former Calgary quarterback Henry Burris that bounced off Tiger-Cats' receiver Sam Giguere. Raymond made the pick on the Stampeders' 10-yard line and then raced 100 yards for a touchdown. He also had a game-high eight tackles on the day (tied with fellow Calgary LB Juwan Simpson) and added two sacks of Burris.
(Honourable mentions for defensive star: Charleston Hughes, DE, Calgary Stampeders; Ricardo Colclough, DB, Hamilton Tiger-Cats; Robert McCune, LB, Toronto Argonauts.)
Second Star: Jamel Richardson, slotback, Montreal Alouettes: Richardson turned in the weekend's top receiving performance, hauling in eight catches for 161 yards in his team's narrow triumph Saturday against Saskatchewan. He's had a rough year, battling through injuries, but this week, he looked like the league-leading receiver he was last season.
(Honourable mentions for offensive star: Ricky Ray, QB, Toronto Argonauts; Chad Simpson, RB, Winnipeg Blue Bombers; Chris Williams, WR, Hamilton Tiger-Cats.)
Third Star: Paul McCallum, kicker/punter, B.C. Lions: The 42-year-old McCallum hasn't been quite as dominant as he was in last year's historic and record-breaking campaign, but he's still one of the league's best kickers. He showed that Friday against Edmonton, hitting all six of his field goal attempts (including a 48-yarder). When you add his three-for-three showing on converts, McCallum was responsible for over half of the Lions' 39 points. His punting day wasn't the greatest, as he averaged just 35.2 yards on five punts, but it was respectable; his two shortest punts of the day came from inside the Edmonton half, so he didn't have as much room to work with on those. McCallum also drilled six kickoffs 348 yards, an average of 58.0 yards per kick. On the year, his 173 kicking points are the best in the league, and his 83.7 per cent field goal success rate is fourth-best.
(Honourable mentions for special-teams star: Jason Armstead, PR/KR, Calgary Stampeders; Onrea Jones, KR, Hamilton Tiger-Cats; Grant Shaw, K/P, Edmonton Eskimos.)
Bonus Star/Top Canadian: Marc-Olivier Brouillette, linebacker, Montreal Alouettes: Brouillette and the rest of the Alouettes' defence had to step up Saturday following starting middle linebacker Shea Emry's first-quarter ejection for a groin punch, and they did. Brouillette did a particularly solid job, filling Emry's crucial spot on many plays and recording three tackles and a sack. Not bad for a guy who played with a cast thanks to a fractured bone in his left hand. Then again, by Brouillette's standards, that barely counts as adversity.
(Honourable mentions for top Canadian: Paul McCallum, K/P, B.C. Lions; Jon Cornish, RB, Calgary Stampeders; Grant Shaw, K/P, Edmonton Eskimos.)
Want to nominate a player for inclusion in next week's Three Stars? During next weekend's games, send your submissions to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet them to @AndrewBucholtz.
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