The Calgary Roughnecks spoiled Tracey Kelusky’s homecoming.
On the night his former team raised his jersey to the rafters of the Saddledome, they also defeated the New England Black Wolves, his current team, 18-13.
Kelusky retired in 2014 after a 14 year NLL career. Eight of those years, from 2003-2010, were spent with the Roughnecks, where he was captain and helped establish the team in the Calgary market. The impact he had on the people of Calgary is immeasurable.
He joins Kaleb Toth as the only other member of the team’s Forever a Roughneck program. He was previously inducted into the NLL Hall of Fame in 2016.
He and his family were greeted with hugs from Dane Dobbie and Mike Carnegie. Kelusky was accompanied by his wife Emily, son Kellar, and mom Gwen, as well as Toth. The entire Roughnecks team was seated in chairs on the carpet to watch the ceremonies.
The ceremony started with an eight-minute video tribute featuring family members, John Grant Jr. and John Grant Sr. who were instrumental in starting Kelusky’s lacrosse career, former teammates and colleagues.
Kelusky was presented with a custom wooden lacrosse stick, made by Delby Powless, engraved with his NLL stats. He and his family were also given a vacation as a token from the Roughnecks.
Kelusky spoke earnestly about his time in Calgary. He choked up when mentioning his father, but Kelusky is an honest, straight-shooter and gave a controlled and grateful speech. Toth, however, was an endearing mess of tears for the whole ceremony.
Highlights from his speech:
- On Kaleb Toth: “It was easy to come to Calgary and lay it on the line every game when you see the passion this guy had. Everybody was proud to be a Calgarian and that was something that was infectious. I was born in Ontario but proud I’m a Calgarian because of Kaleb.”
- On his family: “My mom, my #1 supporter, for you to come out here with me means the world to me. Standing next to my mom is my dad. None of you see my dad but he’s there. He was my biggest fan and I know how proud he was of me and I know that he’s here today. My wife Emily, thanks for your undying support. When we moved to Calgary I think we had about $500 in our bank account and we moved to Calgary and we called it home for eight years and it was a pretty awesome ride. Thank you for believing in me and allowing me to chase my dreams. My son Kel, quite the little athlete. I know what my dad felt because I’m proud of you every day.”
- On his former coaches: “Chris Hall, Terry Sanderson, Troy Cordingley. Some of our generals when I was here. It was pretty easy to play under those guys when you knew your role and what you were expected to do.”
- “I’m with New England right now. We’re in our infancy and if there’s a model franchise and a franchise I know that’s built on a solid foundation we’d model it on the Calgary Roughnecks and its fans.”
- “It wasn’t about me. It was about the team. I’m able to accept this award because of the teammates I played with.”
After the anthems, Kelusky received handshakes and hugs from both the Roughnecks and Black Wolves.
The win was a relief for the Roughnecks, who are currently sitting out of the playoff picture. They trail third place Vancouver, losers to Toronto on Saturday, by half a game.
Necks rookie Holden Cattoni had his first two goal game. It was an appropriate game for it to happen – Kelusky took Cattoni under his wing when he was just a ball boy for the Roughnecks and was instrumental in bringing Cattoni to Peterborough to play for the Lakers organization where he solidified his draft stock, prompting the Roughnecks to take him in the first round of the 2016 draft.
Wes Berg (5G/4A) and Curtis Dickson (3G/6A) led the Roughnecks with nine points each. Dane Dobbie had three goals and four assists and Jeff Shattler two goals and five assists. Tyler Digby (1G/3A), Dan MacRae (1G/1A) and Tyson Bell (1G) also scored. Frankie Scigliano made 42 saves on 55 shots.
Former Roughneck Shawn Evans had three goals and four assists for the Wolves, who failed to gain any ground on the Buffalo Bandits in their playoff race. Kyle Buchanan had five goals and two assists. Kevin Buchanan (1G/4A), Kevin Crowley (1G/2A), Seth Oakes (1G/2A), Zac Reid (1G/1A) and Chad Culp (1G) also made their mark on the scoresheet. Reilly O’Connor added four assists. Evan Kirk made 29 saves on 41 shots before giving way to Doug Jamieson who stopped 10 of 16.
Calgary heads to Rochester to face the Knighthawks next Saturday, April 1 while New England hosts Toronto on Sunday April 2.