The Hamilton Tiger-Cats would be forgiven if they entered this year with the team they finished with last season. . The Henry Burris-led squad finished second in the East Division before advancing to the Grey Cup where they ultimately fell to the home field advantage wielding Saskatchewan Roughriders. For a team that finished 6-12 the previous year, and hadnt made a Grey Cup appearance since winning the trophy in 1999, that qualifies as progress, a significant amount. And more than that, you could argue the team was on the cusp of greatness, a couple tweaks away from finishing the job in 2014. But the Ticats opted against trotting out the same lineup – or a very similar one at least – to take another shot this season. Instead they went for a big shakeup at a key position, one that may lead to some immediate regression, but that could pay off handsomely in the future. Gone is Burris, one of the teams leaders the past two years, and his league-leading stats. After throwing for 10,292 yards and 67 touchdowns the past two years with the Ticats, head coach and general manager Kent Austin allowed Burris to leave in free agency where he signed with the Ottawa Redblacks. The team opted instead for promising youngster Zach Collaros, who proved he more than belonged in the league – and may offer a lot more with extended play – with the Toronto Argonauts last year while Ricky Ray was sidelined with a shoulder injury. Despite Burris taking the Ticats to the peak of the mountain last year, theres a perception hes maybe not the guy to get a team over the mountain, and the Ticats decided to cut bait and build with a quarterback they feel more confident in. For all Collaros heroics filling in and keeping the Argos in contention last season, hes still a young quarterback with just 298 CFL passing attempts to his name. While the Ticats are convinced theyre in for big things with Collaros at QB, and theyre not the only ones as evident by the mini bidding war that went on to secure his services, some growing pains should still be expected with a 26-year-old pivot, especially one learning a new offence. So while Burris may have been the better option for Hamiltons prospects in 2014, considering his age and difficulty winning the big one, going with Collaros upward trending career is the smarter move for ultimate success. Hamilton hopes theyre taking one step back to make two steps forward. This reasonability of this move is buoyed by the general strength of the roster surrounding Collaros. Hell be in the backfield with one of the most exciting running backs in the league in CJ Gable, who finished fourth in the league in rushing with 782 yards but was the clear frontrunner in highlight reel spin-o-ramas frequently seen on Sportcentre Honour Rolls. And the Ticats already robust receiving corps added more talent this off-season. Joining Andy Fantuz, Bakari Grant, and Greg Ellingson will be Cary Koch, an underrated threat who spent the first four years of his CFL career split between Saskatchewan and Edmonton, really breaking out with the Eskimos the past two years. And while the addition isnt likely to help Collaros directly, Craig Butler joins an improving defensive unit. Notes Expansion Draft The Tiger-Cats got off easy in the first two rounds of the expansion draft before a surprise pick in the third. Backup running back Chevon Walker and FB John Delahunt were grabbed in Round 1 and 2 before Marwan Hage, surprisingly still available, was taken by the Ottawa Redblacks in the third round. It was clear the Ticats were moving on from Hage after he was left available in the final round of the draft. Hage Retires Hages time in Ottawa wasnt lasting, and the affable offensive lineman did the right thing in returning to Hamilton to retire. It was as good an ending to a solid 10-year career that Tiger-Cats fans could have hoped for, not having to see him in another teams colours. Free Agency Its hard to argue the Ticats werent the winners of free agency after landing their quarterback of the present and future in Collaros, another weapon in the receiving corps in Cary Koch, a decent offensive line replacement in Steve Myddleton, front seven defensive help in Ted Laurent and Abraham Kromah, and a solid Canadian safety in Craig Butler. CFL Draft The Tiger-Cats took a chance on their second of two first round picks and paid for it when Manitoba defensive lineman Evan Gill, a player they traded up for, decided he would return to school and try his luck at an NFL tryout next season. Gill entered the draft a bit of a risk with a quad injury but the Ticats selected him anyway, perhaps opting for the long play. The team also selected Western LB Beau Landry, one pick before Gill in the first round, who later signed with the team. After the first, Hamilton didnt make another pick until the fifth round, taking Toronto LB Christopher Johnson. The Ticats wrapped the draft up with sixth-round defensive linemen Mathieu Girard (Montreal) and Stephen Mawa (UBC), and seventh-round defensive lineman Martin Pesek from Acadia. Tim Hortons Field After a successful campaign at the University of Guelph last season, the Ticats return home to Hamilton for 2014, to the same location Ivor Wynne Stadium once stood. Tim Hortons Field projects to be ready for Hamiltons home opener in Week 5 against the Redblacks. . Terrance Broadway threw for 227 yards and Hunter Stover kicked three field goals as the Ragin Cajuns won an unprecedented fourth straight New Orleans Bowl with a 16-3 triumph over Nevada. . -- Billy Andrade hasnt played much competitive golf over the past four years.A pair of Western Canadian NHL teams travel east tonight as the Vancouver Canucks face the Buffalo Sabres and the Edmonton Oilers battle the New York Islanders. The Vancouver Canucks will face former teammate Cody Hodgson and the Buffalo Sabres when the clubs meet in tonights clash at First Niagara Center. The Sabres were 0-6-1 through the first seven games of 2013-14, but finally picked up a victory in Tuesdays road tilt against the New York Islanders. Tyler Ennis scored the deciding goal during the second round of the shootout to lift the Sabres to a come-from-behind win at Nassau Coliseum. The 4-3 shootout decision ended a club record-tying streak for futility at the start of the season. The last time Buffalo went seven games into a campaign without a victory was in 1999-2000, when the Sabres recorded five losses and two ties. The Sabres trailed 3-2 before Marcus Foligno found the back of the net with 2:01 remaining in the third period, and Thomas Vanek and Ennis both converted their shootout opportunities before Ryan Miller officially stopped Buffalos losing streak with a save on John Tavares. Ennis and Vanek also scored in regulation, while Miller racked up 41 saves prior to stoning two of New Yorks three skaters in the shootout. "It was a great job by our guys," said Miller. "Glad to get that (first win)." Buffalo now has a chance to earn its first home win of the season, having posted an 0-3-1 mark in Western New York so far. Thursdays contest marks the start of a three-game homestand for the Sabres, who also will welcome Colorado and Boston during the residency. Sabres forward Hodgson will play his second career game against the Canucks, who drafted him with the 10th overall pick in the 2008 draft before eventually trading him to Buffalo for fellow forward Zack Kassian during the 2011-12 season. Hodgson played at Vancouver on March 3, 2012, less than one week after the trade, but did not record a point in that meeting. Kassian had one goal and one assist in that game, which Buffalo won by a 5-3 score. Hodgson has one goal and five assists in eight games this season. Kassian, meanwhile, has failed to record a point for the Canucks in two games since returning from a suspension for a high-sticking incident against Edmonton in the preseason. All told, Hodgson has 19 goals and 48 points in 76 games since the trade, while Kassian has posted eight goals and six assists over 58 contests with the Canucks. Vancouver had lost two straight regulation games by identical 4-1 scores before ending the brief slide with Tuesdays win in Philadelphia. Ryan Kesler scored a pair of goals, including the deciding tally with 2:25 left in regulation, to help the Canucks open a seven-game road trip on a positive note. The Canucks trailed the Flyers by a 2-1 count heading into the third period, but Vancouver scored the only two goals of the final 20 minutes to take a 3-2 decision. Chris Higgins added a goal and one assist and tied the game at 2-2 with 12:29 remaining in the third period, setting up Keslers game-winner. Henrik Sedin posted two helpers for the Canucks, while Roberto Luongo stopped 20 shots for the win. "It was a nice one, especially since the couuple of guys that scored goals had been working hard all year so far, but hadnt gotten rewarded much," Luongo said. . "So its nice that they both contributed in a huge way there." Vancouver is 2-1-0 as the visiting team this season and will continue its swing this Saturday in Pittsburgh. The Sabres have won four of the last five meetings against the Canucks. Buffalo also has claimed three in a row and five of the past six encounters in Western New York. EDMONTON OILERS vs. NEW YORK ISLANDERS A couple of teams desperate for a victory will meet Thursday on Long Island when the New York Islanders host the Edmonton Oilers at Nassau Coliseum. The Islanders are 2-2-2 on the season and enter Thursday riding an 0-2-1 losing streak. New York dropped the first two games of this slide on the road, but couldnt break the trend in Tuesdays home game against the Buffalo Sabres, who recorded a 4-3 shootout win to earn their first victory of the season. New York led the Sabres 3-2 after Matt Moulsons power-play goal with 11:16 remaining in the third period. However, Marcus Foligno netted the equalizer for Buffalo with 2:01 left in regulation and Tyler Ennis notched the decisive goal for the Sabres in the shootout. Thomas Vanek and Ennis both converted their shootout opportunities for Buffalo before Ryan Miller officially sealed the win for the Sabres with a save on John Tavares. In addition to Moulsons score, the Islanders also received goals from Frans Nielsen and Matt Martin, while Evgeni Nabokov turned aside 31 shots in the loss. "We put a lot of pucks on net today," said Tavares. "We didnt get the result we wanted. When we have a lead, we have to bear down and find a way to get the job done." New York is 1-0-2 on home ice this season and is playing the second test of a four-game stand on Thursday. Edmonton has just one win in seven games (1-5-1) this season and the club will be aiming for its first victory at Nassau Coliseum since 1999 when it takes the ice on Thursday. The Oilers have dropped six in a row on Long Island since last earning a road win against the Isles on Dec. 14, 1999. New York has taken two of three and eight of the last 11 meetings in this series overall. The Oilers last played on Tuesday when they dropped a 3-2 regulation decision in Pittsburgh. Evgeni Malkin potted the game-winner on the power play 7:20 into the third period to hand Edmontons its fourth straight loss. Jordan Eberle and Ales Hemsky each scored once for the Oilers, while Jason LaBarbera stopped 25-of-28 shots. "Its about wins and losses and weve got to find ways to win games," LaBarbera said. "Thats the bottom line. Everyone of us can step it up a bit more and just find a way to get a win and get a good feeling in here." Its unclear if LaBarbera or the struggling Devan Dubnyk will get the start tonight for the Oilers. Dubnyk entered this season as the clubs clear No. 1 goaltender, but he is 0-3-1 with an astronomical 5.43 goals against average and .829 save percentage in four games. The Oilers are 0-2-1 so far on a six-game road trip and will play the next portion of the swing Saturday in Ottawa. ' ' '