March 20, 2023

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Dan Taylor grew up idolizing the Calgary Roughnecks.

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As a child, he hoped that one day he would join them.

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Two decades later – now four years with the National Lacrosse League franchise – the Calgary is living that life…

And love it.

“There is nothing better in the world,” Taylor, 29, said. “I play for the team that I supported as a child, and it kind of adds an extra sense of pride. And I do it in front of a large crowd of knowledgeable fans. The last two games, you know, we’re looking at 14,000+ for each game – and they’re loud.

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“It’s just a dream come true.”

Taylor and the Roughnecks will do it again on Friday with another strong congregation of believers expected to fill Rough House. Over 16,000 tickets have already been sold for the annual St. Patrick’s Day Party, which will feature a key Western Conference battle between host Riggers (8-4) and visiting Saskatchewan Rush (5-6) at WestJet Field in the Scotiabank Saddledome (7) . pm,

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And that puts a big smile on the veteran forward’s face.

“It proves that we are one of the best sports cities in the world,” Taylor said. “Thugs fans prove it every weekend.”

Taylor himself was raised as one of these ardent supporters, citing a love for all sports and their stars in Stampede City – from Jarom Iginla of the NHL Flames to Michael Stone of the Hitmen of the WHL and Bo Levi Mitchell of the Stampeders of the CFL.

“But I was a big Roughnecks fan,” Taylor said. “And I remember being at the team’s first game. I went to every game until I went to college.

“I started playing and I think I was nine or 10 years old when the team started and I immediately thought, ‘This is where I want to play lacrosse someday.’ And given the opportunity, I was lucky enough to train with guys like Taylor Ray and Tracey Kelusky when they were here, which made me want to pursue that as a goal even more.

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“And it worked. I was traded to a couple of different teams – I took a slightly different route to get here – but in the end it worked out.”

Indeed, Taylor honed his game on the state side with the NCAA Lehigh Mountain Hawks in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

After a brilliant career there, he was selected in the second round – 12th overall – of the 2015 NLL Draft by the Rush, with whom he played 16 games over the three seasons he started in the league. After a couple of trades, including a brief stint in three games with the Toronto Rock, Taylor found himself at home with the Roughnecks.

And the dream came true.

“I had a lot of guys that I idolized as a kid,” said Taylor, a Calgary Jr. alumnus. A Mountaineers and a graduate of Central Memorial High School. “It was hard for me to compete with Caleb Toth. I mean… it was like every time you need a big goal, you pass the ball to Thoth and he does it. I enjoyed watching Jason Woolder and Ted Dowling play in their early years. Kelusky too. And Tyson Leyes – I remember the days when he bounced and jumped off the glass.

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“But so many guys have left here. It’s just an amazing franchise with so many great players.”

Add 6 ft 3, 190 lbs. Taylor to that long list, making him one of the few Calgarians ever to play with the Roughnecks.

While the early part of his 76-game NLL career was successful, he has had his best seasons at the hometown club since then. In the team’s 2019 championship, he achieved a personal best of 23 goals and 46 points in the regular season and added a goal and assist in four playoff games. The following year, cut short due to COVID, he scored 14 goals and 36 points in just 10 games. Last year there was a campaign with 18 goals and 43 points.

And this year, he has nine of his 74 NLL goals, as well as 16 assists and 25 points in 12 games.

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“I know I’ve tried here and there to pick up bits and pieces from the guys I grew up watching,” Taylor added. “I would take everything they taught me and take it like a sponge. A guy like Ted Dowling – I remember he was out of his mind. And Sean Cable, it was the same. It was the game I play and these guys have made a long career out of it.

“It worked.”


Last Friday, the Roughnecks gained momentum after a 16-10 road game over hosts the Colorado Mammoth (5-6)… Last Saturday, the Rush lost a 12-11 home game decider to the West’s best San Diego Seals (8-2)… A trio of sidelined thugs — Tyler Pace (upper body), Jeff Cornwall (illness) and Ethan Ticehurst (lower body) — are all Friday night game-time decisions.


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