Kelusky aids comeback

IAN BUSBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:47 AM ET

The Colorado Mammoth are in a similar position as the Roughnecks were last year, and they have a star Calgary player to thank for that.

Forward Dan Carey has returned to the Mammoth lineup and should provide a boost to the team in today's National Lacrosse League playoff outing against the Roughnecks (3 p.m., Saddledome).

Ironically, Carey's return was aided by Riggers captain Tracey Kelusky.

A year ago, Kelusky suffered a concussion and missed nine games before coming back and helping the Riggers knock off the Mammoth on the road in the post-season.

This season, a healthy Kelusky was in contact with his good friend Carey to help him through a head injury.

The biggest thing Kelusky said was to trust the instincts and believe he was ready once he got clearance to return.

"It's awesome to see him back playing," said Kelusky. "It helps them against us because he's a great player, but, at the same time, it's good to see a guy come back and play."

Kelusky has erased any doubts he let last season's problems linger. He played in all 16 Roughnecks games, scoring 31 goals and adding 53 helpers for a great comeback season after only scoring 11 times with 14 helpers in seven outings last year.

"Some of the things I talk to Dan about is some of the things I still struggle with -- doubting myself and not believing I'm fully out of the weeds," Kelusky said. "In my mind, I know I am, but you can still struggle with it. It's good to hear reassurance from other people. That's where I think I helped Danny out."

When Kelusky suffered his injury a season ago, Carey was living at his house in Calgary and got to see first-hand how tough it was to deal with.

But after Kelusky started to recover, Carey suffered a concussion of his own.

The 27-year-old skipped the summer lacrosse season after being limited to 11 games in the NLL. He missed the post-season loss to the Riggers.

Carey started this season fresh but took another bump in the fourth game and was out the next 11 starts with nerve damage between his brain stem and right eye.

It was during that time he leaned on Kelusky for help.

"When you have a head injury, you think the worst when you get hit," Carey said. "I got to see Tracey come back and he kept telling me to be positive and not worry about it."

In the season finale against Edmonton, Carey had two assists but felt he got worn down in the fourth quarter in his first game back.

The teams have been idle for two weeks waiting for today's matchup, and Carey just hopes a few practice sessions will have helped him regain his touch.

But Kelusky said the toughest thing to get back is confidence. That's something he had to deal with a year ago.

"I know he wasn't putting up numbers, and those were the same struggles I went through," Kelusky said. "When you are battling through it, your timing is off and you get down on yourself."


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