Riggers captain nears return

IAN BUSBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:15 AM ET

Tracey Kelusky bounces around the backroom at Spolumbo's, play fighting with teammates and furiously signing his No. 17 jerseys.

The Calgary Roughnecks captain is a ball of energy during the team's weekly news conference, prompting a teammate to ask if he's feeling OK.

Never better, he says matter-of-factly. For the first time in nearly two months, Kelusky is back to his old self and free of the concussion symptoms that have kept him out eight straight games.

"I'm just excited," said Kelusky, who should be back in the lineup tomorrow when the Riggers host the Portland LumberJax (7:30 p.m., Saddledome) on free ticket night.

"This is the first time I'm on the positive side in terms of me playing. I personally think I'm about 95 percent to play this weekend."

After losing 9-7 last Saturday to the Toronto Rock, the Riggers could really use the boost Kelusky's return would provide.

The offence went cold in Toronto and couldn't match a strong defensive effort.

The team hopes to put on a good show after announcing fans can get tickets to tomorrow's contest for free, aside from a $2.50 service charge.

"Looking at where we are, 3-6 ... hopefully I can bring a spark and add a new energy to the dressing room," Kelusky said. "That's the type of player I am anyway.

"Me being back could spark the guys. We've been doing a lot of things right. We're 3-6 but have lost a couple times by one goal. We're in those games and having bad breaks.

"We're not a 3-6 team, with or without me in the lineup. Can we win a championship? Absolutely. The key thing is ... we need to believe."

Kelusky only played one game this season -- the season-opening 10-9 loss against the Mammoth in Colorado -- before he was injured in practice, after a collision with teammate Derek Tom.

His symptoms subsided a few weeks ago, but he suffered a headache on a trip to Rochester.

This past weekend, the captain travelled to Toronto, participated in morning shootaround. He was on the floor for the pre-game warmup and watched the game, all without experiencing any problems.

Kelusky went from Toronto back home to Peterborough, where he visited with family, and then returned to Calgary and still had no symptoms.

After some high-intensity workouts this week, he's feeling great, with only a contact practice tonight standing in the way of full clearance to suit up against the LumberJax. who are also 3-6 and tied with the Riggers in the standings.

"Understanding where I'm going and my day-to-day activities, everything is better," Kelusky said. "I'm very optimistic about playing."


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