Dream coming true for newest Rigger

WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:34 AM ET

Carlton Schuss' eyes are nearly as wide as the lacrosse balls he'll be chasing.

Already.

And the 20-year-old forward is still three days from making his professional debut for the Calgary Roughnecks.

"It's all new to me," Schuss said. "My whole life, ever since I was a kid, I've wanted to play in this league. I was watching guys like Josh Sanderson and Tracey Kelusky play, and now I'm playing with them, right?

"It's amazing."

It's also happening sooner than anybody -- including Schuss -- expected.

With assistant captain Kaleb Toth still hampered by a hamstring injury and expected to miss a third consecutive tilt, the untested lefty is slated to suit up for Saturday's clash against the visiting Washington Stealth at the Saddledome. He'll become the third-youngest player to make an appearance in Roughnecks silks, following starting goalie Matt King and all-star defender Andrew McBride.

Schuss was mighty polite as he faced the media Wednesday afternoon, but Riggers GM Brad Banister expects to see more of a mean streak when the 6-foot-1, 215-pounder hits the floor at the Saddledome.

"We want to give these young kids a little chance," Banister said. "(Schuss) has really good hands. He has good size, so he should be able to free up some room. He'll be knocking bodies around, setting hard picks, trying to free up some room for Josh Sanderson and Dane Dobbie and some of our smaller guys on offence.

"He plays with an edge. He's got an attitude. He's tenacious. You'll see probably a nervous kid out there, but also somebody who is going to help out everybody else on the floor."

Saturday's showdown with the undefeated Stealth will mark the latest chapter in what's been a fairytale four months for the bulky forward from Delta, B.C.

After selecting Schuss in the third round of September's NLL Entry Draft, Banister cautioned fans not to expect too much too soon, saying "if we can hang on to him for a bit, he can help us down the road."

Turns out, that plan has been accelerated. Schuss shocked most lacrosse insiders by earning a spot on the active roster, and after sitting out the first two games of the regular season, he'll get a chance to prove he belongs among the heavyweights.

While he won't challenge the likes of Dane Dobbie, Tracey Kelusky or Josh Sanderson for the Roughnecks' scoring crown, Schuss will provide a rugged, physical presence that was lacking in last weekend's 12-10 loss to the Minnesota Swarm.

He may be the Roughnecks youngest player, but he's also among the biggest.

"It's pretty exciting to be in the league this young," Schuss said. "Growing up, I always played with the older guys I always felt like I played better when I had to prove myself. You've just got to always show people what you're made of."

WES.GILBERTSON@SUNMEDIA.CA


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