Kelusky scores five times to pay tribute to grandmother

TY PILSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:41 AM ET

Tracey Kelusky stepped up last night for both of his families.

His five first-half goals staked the Calgary Roughnecks to a sizeable early lead as they coasted to a 17-5 win over the San Jose Stealth in the NLL West championship game at the Dome.

That performance was for his Roughnecks family -- and his grandma Margaret Kellar, who passed away Wednesday.

Kelusky flew home to Ontario the day she died, attended her funeral Thursday and flew back on a red-eye yesterday.

He missed the morning shootaround but didn't miss a beat once the ball dropped.

His family, knowing how important this weekend was to him and his lacrosse family, had the funeral right away in Bancroft, Ont., so Kelusky would have time to attend it and get back to Calgary for the game.

The Riggers captain was exhausted after the game, both physically and emotionally.

"I had someone in my corner tonight," said Kelusky, whose performance paid tribute to the lady his family called Maggie.

"I had an old girl watching over me."

Not wanting his personal tragedy to overshadow the team's victory, Kelusky said the real focus on the night should rest with his Riggers teammates.

"There were no passengers tonight," said Kelusky. "It was an incredible effort by everybody. Just incredible."

Kelusky scored a natural hat-trick in the first quarter, and added an assist for four points on the team's opening six goals. His first goal was a hard, low outside shot. Two of the others were vintage No. 17, when he juked and jived to create space before blowing past a few defenders, getting in tight and then depositing the ball in the net.

In the second quarter, he added two more. On the first, Kelusky gathered the ball behind the net before diving over the crease and tucking it above goalie Matt Roik's left shoulder.

San Jose challenged the goal, saying Kelusky was in the crease before the ball went into the net. After a review, the ref disagreed and the goal stood.

Just for good measure before halftime, Kelusky took a feed from Josh Sanderson and quick-sticked another tally into the gaping cage on a powerplay.

Kelusky was held off the scoresheet in the second half, but the damage was done. His early domination earned him the performer of the game award.

Given what his captain went through this week, Roughnecks president and GM Brad Banister could only shake his head.

"There's nobody like Tracey," he said. "Nobody. Big players show up in big games. That's the type of guy he is."

TY.PILSON@SUNMEDIA.CA


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