Young gun primed to fire

TY PILSON -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 6:59 AM ET

The Calgary Roughnecks expect Callum Crawford to pay dividends down the road.

For now, the rookie is just appreciating his net gain.

Making the jump from junior A to the National Lacrosse League is an exciting step for talented young snipers, especially since they get to shoot at bigger nets. Junior nets measure 4-ft by 4-ft. while pro cages are 4-ft. 9-in. by 4-ft. 9-in.

Crawford made good with that extra twine during the team's training camp, earning a spot on the 23-man roster which was officially released yesterday.

"I'm loving the big nets," said the 21-year-old, cracking a wide grin. "Going from junior nets right to the NLL nets is just ridiculous. I'm really liking that a lot. There's definitely a lot more to shoot at."

The Ottawa native, who was drafted in the second round (18th overall), is unlikely to see much floor time this season, barring an injury. Calgary's starting three righties on offence -- Tracey Kelusky, Kaleb Toth and Jason Wulder -- will get the bulk of the floor time, while Crawford and Matt Green could spell them off some shifts.

"It's a huge accomplishment for myself even to make the 23 roster," said Crawford, who played for the Six Nations Arrows jr. A club this summer. "I'm still really amazed. This is great."

Crawford is the first rookie forward since Lewis Ratcliff to even get a sniff at playing on the Riggers' high-powered attack.

"These guys are unreal players," said Crawford. "When I walked out on the floor and got to see these guys, it was ridiculous. Playing alongside guys like Kaleb and Tracey, I think I've learned more in a matter of four weekends than I have in five years."

Kelusky, the team's captain, said Crawford has done a good job making the transition from junior stud to NLL prospect.

"He asks questions, he's eager to learn," said Kelusky. "He's like a sponge with the way he absorbs things and he's looking to the older guys for advice, which is good to see."

Kelusky said the young guns need more than a slick stick to make it on a team like the Roughnecks.

"It's nice to see he has a work ethic," said Kelusky. "It's one of those things, I think, when he came in he was relying on talent and then he kind of figured out he has to work hard and he can't just rely on talent in this league like you can in junior. The NLL is jam-packed with talent and you need more than that to be successful."

Toth said he was also impressed with Crawford and compared his playing style to that of Arizona Sting star Dan Dawson.

"He's got great skill and he knows how to play the game," said Toth. "He kind of reminds me a bit of a smaller Dawson. He's big and he's quick. He's not super heavy but he has the speed and the smarts to excel in this game and I think he'll do great."

For now, Crawford is just focused on drawing into the lineup.

"I have a whole bunch of personal goals," said Crawford. "I'd love to make a run for rookie of the year but the first thing on my mind is to just dress for some games and go from there. That's the first goal."


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