Knighthawks will be minus star player John Grant Jr.

IAN BUSBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 1:26 PM ET

When the Rochester Knighthawks make their first visit to Calgary, they won't have star John Grant Jr. -- one of the best players in the world -- in the lineup, which is obviously disappointing for local lacrosse fans.

It's positive for the Calgary Roughnecks in two ways.

The first is Grant won't be scoring a truckload of points in the National Lacrosse League outing.

The second positive is a unusual coincidence. The last time Grant missed time with an ACL injury, the Riggers and his good friend Tracey Kelusky won the Champion's Cup in 2004.

It was Grant who reminded Kelusky of that fact as the pals made plans for the Knighthawks visit to the Dome tonight (7 p.m., nll.com, Fan 960). Grant is making the trip to visit Kelusky's family.

"I told him, 'If we win it this year, no offence Junior, but I will be praying to the Gods you tear your other ACL next year," Kelusky said jokingly.

During the summer lacrosse season in Peterbrough (where he plays with Kelusky), Grant got an elbow infection which attacked the rebuilt cadavers ACL in his knee, requiring another replacement surgery.

The Knighthawks, perennial contenders in the East Division, brought legend Gary Gait out of retirement to add another marquee name in Grant's absence.

But Gait will miss tonight's game coaching the Syracuse women's lacrosse team.

"It's exciting to play this team anyway," said Kelusky, who has never faced Grant as a member of the Roughnecks. The Calgary captain missed the team's visit to upstate New York last season with a concussion.

"Not knowing anything about them except what we can see on video is a bit of a novelty. When you don't play a team very often, you get excited for it. We know the year they are having. They are still a talented team and are fighting for the playoffs."

Andrew McBride and the Roughnecks defenders aren't sad to see Grant and Gait on the sidelines, but they will still have to deal with the likes of Shawn Williams and Shawn Evans, the top two scorers for the K-Hawks.

"It would be great for the fans to see John Grant and Gary Gait, but it's good for us," McBride said of the K-Hawks. Rochester is also without the services of Scott Evans, who suffered a pre-season knee injury.

"I'm not going to complain for the fans. Those guys can go big any time. They will have to rely on other people.

"With Gary out of the lineup, it will be a more balanced attack and sometimes that can prove more difficult for a defence like ours. With him gone, the ball will be spread around a lot more. The attacks can come from different angles."

With a rash of injuries, Rochester has had only five players suit up for every games this season.

The team is getting healthier and had won four of five games before last night's meeting in Denver against the Colorado Mammoth.

IAN.BUSBY@SUNMEDIA.CA


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