Callum Crawford (middle) and the rest of the Swarm are looking to bounce back after last weekend's loss. Photo Credit: Washington Stealth
SAINT PAUL, Minn. – Having already spent over a month away from Treasure Island Field, the Minnesota Swarm (5-4) are now just one week away from returning home to The Hive. But before they do so, they’ll first wrap up a four-game road trip this Sunday, March 25 against the Washington Stealth (3-7) at the Comcast Arena at Everett. Faceoff is set for 7 p.m. CT.
“It seems like forever since we’ve been back at The Hive,” head coach Joe Sullivan said. “I can tell you the guys are really excited to get that opportunity, but they know they’ve got one thing standing in their way, and it’s the Washington game.”
Minnesota is currently 2-1 on its road trip, which began on Feb. 24 with a 15-7 victory in Washington. In that game, 10 different Swarm players found the back of the net and the team tied a franchise record with three shorthanded goals.
Washington on the other hand, was missing three key players that night: G Tyler Richards, F Rhys Duch, and F Jeff Zywicki. Coach Sullivan admitted that Sunday’s game features a much tougher Stealth team this time around.
“Those guys are all back and they’re all key components to their club,” Sullivan said. “We’ve got to come out with a ton of energy to match what they’ve done there.”
Minnesota currently sits 2.5 games ahead of the Stealth for third place in the West Division. Washington has been idle since defeating the Colorado Mammoth 11-8 on March 11. Minnesota fell on the road last weekend to the Buffalo Bandits 13-10, which snapped a two-game winning streak.
“When we play Washington, there’s a chip on our shoulder because these guys took away from us the opportunity to continue on in the playoffs two years straight,” Sullivan said. “Look for a physical game and look for us to play with a tough edge. Our guys are going to be prepared.”
Fans should keep a close eye on F Ryan Benesch on Sunday night; the NLL’s defending scoring champ needs just two goals to become the third player in team history to surpass the 100-goal mark. Benesch is averaging over two goals a game this season and has posted a team-high 24 tallies in nine games this year.
While the Stealth have returned a few familiar faces to the lineup, the Swarm will suit up some new faces for this week’s matchup. On Thursday, the Swarm signed D Michael Brascia to a three-year deal and placed him on the active roster.
Brascia, 24, was one of the Swarm’s final cuts during training camp this season.
“He’s been working hard to keep himself in shape,” Sullivan said. “He’s a very, very big strong fellow who’s going to play some great defense.”
With the addition of Brascia and F Josh Gillam last week, Minnesota’s 23-man active roster currently features a league-high 11 rookies. Minnesota also signed rookie D Kiel Donahue to the practice squad and moved rookie F Pat Smith back to the practice roster this week.
Washington travels to Edmonton (2-7) on Saturday night prior to hosting the Swarm at the Comcast Arena at Everett. Minnesota leads the all-time series against the Stealth 8-3 and both teams will meet again for a third time this season on April 14 on Treasure Island Field at Xcel Energy Center for a 7 p.m. contest.
Minnesota returns home to Treasure Island Field on Friday, March 30 at 7 p.m. for a showdown against the Calgary Roughnecks for Heroes Night at the Hive. The Swarm will be honoring local military members, veterans, police officers, firefighters and nurses throughout the night. To get tickets: call 1-888-MN-SWARM or visit mnswarm.com. Lower level single game tickets can be purchased for just $20 to all remaining four home games.
Fans can watch this Sunday’s contest live online via the NLL Network by visiting NLL.com and at Cork’s Irish Pub in Downtown St. Paul for the Swarm’s official viewing party.