Riggers' season turning

IAN BUSBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:58 AM ET

Now that his head is clear, Tracey Kelusky can put his complete focus to the condition of his lacrosse team.

A week ago, the Calgary Roughnecks season could have been deemed to be spiralling out of control, as the National Lacrosse League club lost four of its previous five games.

Now, the pulse of the Riggers is beating at a tremendous rate.

The captain returned for Saturday's huge 15-12 victory over the Portland LumberJax in front of a capacity crowd at the Saddledome.

With a six-point outing, Kelusky's medical condition isn't the focal point anymore, which comes as a huge relief -- to him, especially.

"For me, I can look now at the big picture, which is the team," said Kelusky.

"Not only that, now the team can just look at the team as well, without having to worry about whether I'm coming back or how I'm doing.

"We're still waiting on Chugger (goalie Steve Dietrich and his concussion) and he will be a big piece of the puzzle, but I'm confident he will be back soon as well.

"We're getting into no-excuse mode with guys coming back. This is the hand we were dealt, so now we're playing it."

With six games remaining, five against divisional opponents, the Roughnecks have a shot at further rewarding their fan base by earning a home playoff date.

Finishing first or second didn't seem possible two weeks ago, but with first-place Colorado losing three straight, Calgary is only two games back the Mammoth and the San Jose Stealth -- both are at 5-3.

The Roughnecks' (4-6) next two opponents are Colorado at home Friday and San Jose in California the following Saturday.

Kelusky is getting excited to face Mammoth forward Dan Carey, who rents a room in the Calgary captain's house.

"Dan came home today, and he's obviously upset about their performance on the weekend," Kelusky said about Colorado's 12-8 loss to San Jose Saturday.

"We have an angry giant coming in, so it's a big task ahead of us."

If the Roughnecks do earn a home playoff game, it will be a reward for season-ticket holders.

In giving out tickets to Saturday's date for free, the Riggers promised season-ticket holders half-price seats for a home post-season date, plus a two-for-one deal Friday against the Mammoth.

The huge crowd against Portland, the largest and loudest since the Roughnecks won the Champion's Cup in 2004, helped give the home side an emotional edge.

Kelusky is hoping this win, his return and sizeable crowds put the team on a roll.

"This season is very reminiscent of the championship year in that we started off slow and dug ourselves a hole before digging out," he said.

"We fine-tuned everything, then got on a run heading into the post-season. These next six games are pretty important for us. We understand we need to put wins together, but we really need to get better every game."

As for his health, Kelusky is worn out from Saturday's win and spent yesterday resting, but he's confident his head is no longer an issue.


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