Halluva u-turn for Kelly

IAN BUSBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:35 AM ET

Kelly Hall was handed the game ball the last time the Calgary Roughnecks took the floor, but he was happier about having a spot in the lineup.

When the veteran National Lacrosse League forward arrived at Roughnecks training camp, he found a summer off had left him in worse physical condition than he thought.

The Victoria native was called out by head coach Troy Cordingley for not being as fit as the rest of the Riggers.

So Hall hit the gym with teammate and fellow Victoria native Lewis Ratcliff, his old teammate with the summer-league Shamrocks.

Although he was a scratch for the NLL season-opener, he was inserted into the lineup for the following three games and had a hat-trick against the Portland LumberJax Jan. 26 at the Saddledome.

The reality check and hard work paid off.

"After the season was cancelled, I didn't put my best foot forward and I came into camp in not the best of shape," Hall said yesterday of the labour dispute that temporarily halted the season.

"I certainly paid the price for that. I let my teammates down. Since then, I've had a turnaround. I'm feeling good. Lacrosse is going good.

"But I still have to prove myself to these guys."

Cordingley is excited with Hall's play and what the 28-year-old has done working alongside Ratcliff on the right side of the floor.

Although Hall was first put in because captain Tracey Kelusky was unable to play due to a concussion, Cordingley wouldn't think about taking the lefty out now.

"He's come a long way since the beginning of training camp," Cordingley said of Hall. "He's done what he needed to do to get into the lineup.

"He bumps bodies, creates space for Lewie and scores big goals. Two of the goals he scored in the Portland game were huge for us," Cordingley added.

"He is playing really well for us. He's doing what we need, which is scoring goals, but he's providing an energy as well. I'm real glad for him."

Hall spent two full seasons with the Minnesota Swarm before getting dealt to the LumberJax midway through last season. In 13 games, he had 21 goals.

Because he lives in Victoria, travel is an issue, so Roughnecks general manager Kurt Silcott acquired him this off-season for second- and third-round draft picks.

With the way things started, it looked as if Hall would become a depth player who may not get into much action.

But Hall is proving Silcott made a good move now that he's a key member of the offence.

"It's a testament to him as a person," Silcott said. "It would have been really easy for him to shut it down after we went after him.

"He manned up and said he would do what it takes to be part of this team. He has done it. I commend him for that, and it's made us a better team."

When Hall scores, his fist-pumping excitement is a sign of how much he treasures being able to play.

"In five years in this league, I've never had a problem putting up numbers," Hall said.

"I'm not worried about putting the ball in the net. I just need to worry about doing the small things."


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