Former ballboy gets his shot

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:37 AM ET

CALGARY - Joe Vetere expected to spend his Sunday afternoon desperately trying to stay warm in Calgary.

Instead, he will be trying to keep himself calm in Edmonton.

The Calgary Roughnecks are making a roster juggle as they face the Edmonton Rush at Rexall Place (2 p.m.), and they are making a dream come true in the process.

Vetere has pictured this moment since he was the Riggers ballboy during the inaugural season of the team, some 10 years ago, and he’s nervous as all heck.

To make the trip, Vetere had to give his Heritage Classic tickets to his uncle, but it was hardly a tough decision.

“I have a way better excuse not to be there than just because it’s too cold,” said the 23-year-old right-handed forward, who has spent three seasons on the Riggers practice roster.

“To finally be in the lineup and playing is a dream come true. It’s an honour to play for this organization.”

In order to get Vetere into the lineup, Roughnecks coach Dave Pym is making a shuffle.

Rookie forwards Brandon Ivey and Derek Hopcroft are out, as is Daryl Veltman, the lefty who was a big part of the Josh Sanderson trade with the Boston Blazers.

Although the Riggers also got a draft pick they turned into Curtis Dickson in that deal, they are disappointed in Veltman’s production.

He only has two goals in six games, putting him well off his pace of 23 last year and well back of the 34 he had with the Blazers as a rookie.

“Hopefully, this sends the message to him,” Pym said. “With the travel — he’s living in Boston right now — it makes it difficult to arrange flights to get him in on time.

“There are other things that do come into play, but we would like to see a heck of a lot more production out of him.

“He’s too good of a lacrosse player not to break out. He has to get used to playing with the guys, as well as the system we’re running.”

Vetere won’t be expected to pick up all the slack on offence. Cory Conway, another off-season acquisition who sat last week in an overtime loss to the Toronto Rock, will be back in the lineup.

It will be an unbalanced offence, as only Dane Dobbie, Mark Scherman and Jeff Shattler hit the floor as lefties, while Vetere, Conway, Dickson, Kaleb Toth and Scott Ranger are all righties.

Vetere is the sixth rookie to suit up for the Riggers this year, and the only player not to see action yet is third-string goalie Alex Coutts.

Clearly, Pym is showing his players they have to stay at a top level or they won’t get the privilege of playing.

“There were a few guys who could have done a better job in the off-season coming into camp in better shape,” Pym said. “Sometimes it’s reflected in how many games you are going to play. Some guys have to pay the price off the floor to get in better shape.

“We’ve sent the message now and I hope they have gotten it. It should bode well for us down the stretch.”

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