'Dome tilt a Rush for ex-Rigger

WES GILBERTSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:52 AM ET

You won't catch Steve Dietrich saying anything negative about his ex-teammates.

The last thing the veteran National Lacrosse League netminder wants is to provide Tracey Kelusky, Josh Sanderson and the rest of the Calgary Roughnecks with extra ammunition before his Edmonton Rush debut.

"I've faced Josh and Tracey a lot throughout my career, both in the wintertime and the summertime. Although I'm used to it, it's never fun," said Dietrich, who'll likely be between the pipes for the Rush tonight when the provincial rivals face off at the Saddledome (7 p.m.).

"It's not going to be fun. They have a great offence and it's a team that is going to contend for a championship, so we're coming in hoping we can catch them tired or catch them sleeping and try to steal a win. But they'll be ready for us."

Dietrich, 38, makes his return to the 'Dome exactly six months after being shipped to the provincial capital after just one campaign in Calgary.

Kelusky, Sanderson and the rest of the Roughnecks firing squad will be waiting for him.

The Riggers opened their regular-season slate last night against the host San Jose Stealth, while the Rush will be hitting the floor for the first time since overhauling their roster in the summer months.

Dietrich's only season in Roughnecks silks was marked by injuries -- he missed eight weeks with a concussion -- and a disappointing exit in the West Division final, when he surrendered six unanswered fourth-quarter goals before being yanked in a 16-12 loss to the Portland LumberJax.

He insists there's no animosity.

If anything, he wishes he had a second chance to backstop the Roughnecks to a Champion's Cup berth.

"It'd be nice to get (the Rush) off to a good start and get a win, but it has nothing to do with vindication or last year or trying to get back at anybody," Dietrich said.

"I really enjoyed my time there. It ended too premature, for me."

It won't be the first time Dietrich, who's known to his teammates and the rest of the lacrosse world as Chugger, has switched sides in a heated rivalry.

The Kitchener, Ont., native spent seven seasons with the Rochester Knighthawks before joining the arch-enemy Buffalo Bandits for six campaigns.

Between the two stops in New York State, Dietrich made five trips to the Champion's Cup final, winning a title and earning the playoff MVP nod with the Knighthawks in 1997.

He refers to the Buffalo-Rochester rivalry as "second to none in lacrosse" but figures the Battle of Alberta isn't far off.

"As soon as (the Rush) can start putting up some wins and make this rivalry less one-sided, then the Calgary-Edmonton rivalry will be a good one, too," Dietrich said.

The Roughnecks have a 7-3 all-time mark against their provincial foes.

The two squads squared off three times last season, with the Riggers winning twice.


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