CALGARY - At one point in time, you couldn’t have blamed the Edmonton Rush if they dreaded seeing Curtis Dickson’s stick.
Dickson came into the National Lacrosse League last year and quickly found a groove every time the Calgary Roughnecks dropped the ball against the Rush.
The first six times Dickson played them, he scored at least a hat-trick.
So when the Riggers hit the Saddledome floor Saturday for the West Division semifinal (7 p.m.), Dickson feels pretty good, even though his last meeting with Edmonton didn’t go well.
Two weeks ago, Dickson only played a handful of minutes before suffering a stinger in his shoulder. He left the game, but the Riggers still managed to pick up the 9-6 victory.
Last weekend, the 23-year-old sat out practices at the Saddledome, but this week he declared himself ready to make a playoff run.
“Nothing like that has ever happened to me before,” said Dickson, who hasn’t missed a game in his NLL career. “I was pretty sore at the time.
“I didn’t want to be a dead spot on the floor and be detrimental to the team. It was best to stay out.
“With the depth we have, the offence was still able to produce. They got us the win. It was the best choice for the team at the time.”
A year ago at this time, Dickson picked up rookie of the year honours for a break-out freshman campaign in which he scored 33 goals.
Although he only scored 31 this season, the Riggers offence was much more spread out as six players had more than 20 goals and 50 points.
Dickson has improved in one-on-one battles, especially when he works down low near the crease.
The Maple Ridge, B.C., native almost has a patented goal.
He pushes off the defender, spins around him and then goes airborne through the crease for a goal.
It’s been impressive how Dickson is able to fight off multiple defenders and maintain possession.
“He might be the toughest check in the league already,” Roughnecks head coach Dave Pym said. “He’s been great for us.”
That ability to tuck the ball and fight off opponents was never on better display than during a March 9 victory at Rexall Place.
On a five-on-three penalty kill, Dickson got possession in the offensive zone, then fought off three defenders to fire home a shorthanded marker.
“The best penalty killing is the offensive guys putting the ball in the net,” Dickson said. “It discourages them knowing they are negative on their powerplay.
“It’s great the coaches have the faith in me to put me out in those situations. If you are lucky enough to get a goal, it’s a huge for the team, and it’s tough on their offence as well.”
Although Dickson’s hat-trick run against the Rush ended in March, he still doesn’t know what it’s like to lose to Edmonton.
Something about the Rush brings out the best in him, and Saturday would be a good time to start another run.
He always feels good when he sees the silver and white of the Rush.
“You would like to have that mindset every game,” Dickson said.
“It’s such a rivalry, the Battle of Alberta. We’re always amped up.
“To get out there and play against those guys, there’s no secret we don’t really like each other. They’ve been pretty rough games.
“It will be a lot of fun to play against them.”