Kelusky a hero to pupils, teammates

WES GILBERTSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:43 AM ET

Five first-half goals to cap one of the most emotional weeks of his career.

What could Calgary Roughnecks captain Tracey Kelusky possibly have in mind for an encore?

"The chips fell where they did last week and I'm thankful I ended up getting a few and contributing the way I know I can offensively," Kelusky said. "But on any given weekend or any given night, anybody can contribute, anybody can put in five.

"My philosophy is to go out and work hard, and if you score -- great. If not, hopefully someone else does."

Kelusky's pupils at National Sport Academy, where the 33-year-old spearheads the lacrosse program and teaches the finer points of the game to male and female high school students, were more willing to throw numbers around.

Lauren Crane figures her teacher is good for "at least a hat-trick" in tonight's National Lacrosse League championship game against the New York Titans.

"I expect to see big things out of him," agreed Madison Jerhoff. "At least a hattie. I think he'll play really good."

The way Kelusky has been torching opposing defences in a pair of post-season wins, that doesn't seem far-fetched.

He scored three times and had another marker washed out by an appeal against the Colorado Mammoth in the opening round.

His performance in last Saturday's West Division final against the San Jose Stealth, just three days after the death of his grandmother, was even better.

Kelusky scored a natural hat-trick and added an assist in the first quarter, then lit the lamp twice more before halftime. He was held off the scoresheet in the second half, but the Riggers were in complete control by then.

"He came out and he was flying and we basically just jumped on his back and rode his coattails," said Roughnecks forward Kaleb Toth.

"He's an amazing player, he's an amazing leader and he's the kind of captain that you want to build a team around. He's been absolutely wonderful for us here in Calgary."

Kelusky, who's long been known for his heart-on-his-sleeve leadership, already has a career-best eight playoff goals. He had seven when the Roughnecks won their first title in 2004, including one in the championship game at the Dome.

If he's feeling any pressure to fill the Titans' net tonight, he's not letting on. But you can bet when he returns to his day job next week, his students will want to talk about the big game.

"A lot of the kids in the program go to the games and they're excited, they want to talk about last week against San Jose or the week before against Colorado and what does New York bring to the table," he said. "But at the end of the day, it's not about what I'm doing. It's about what they're doing.

"They're excited for the Champion's Cup, but it's focus time for them because they're starting their paths. And I want to be a part of that."


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