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Back to The Hive

03/28/2012, 8:42am CDT
By Toyota Professor

The Toyota Professor shares his excitement for this Friday's return to the X

Look, no one loves high school and college sports more than I do. I wrestled in high school so I know how cool it is to represent your school in front of a huge audience at the State Wrestling Meet. I spent years covering high school hockey in Maine and Massachusetts and am amazed at the talent level on display in the MSHSL Boys’ Hockey Tournament. And who doesn’t love the WCHA Final Five and the NCAA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey West Regional at the Xcel Energy Center? But my love for all of these sports pales in comparison to my passion for the Swarm. Simply stated… I HATE being away from the team for six long weeks. But that’s what we have to endure every season for the end of winter events at the Xcel Energy Center. That’s all behind us now… the Swarm returns from their annual exile this Friday night at The Hive against the second place Calgary Roughnecks. “It’s long overdue, I’m telling you,” says Swarm Assistant Coach Aime Caines on the return. “Playing so many games on the road isn’t easy especially with the way the games were scheduled. But that’s the NLL in Minnesota… we do it every year. It really is great to be back home.”

The road has been alternately kind and harsh to the Swarm since we last saw them on Saturday, February 18th when they lost to the Colorado Mammoth 12-7. The Swarm went 2-2 during their road trip, starting out strong with wins at Washington (15-7) and Calgary (15-11), but finishing up with losses at Buffalo (13-10) and Washington (20-13). Many indoor lacrosse pundits remain surprised by the Swarm’s 5-5 record, but Caines thinks his team is poised for a strong final month after spending so many days and nights together on the road. “It’s great because you can bond as teammates. You room together, eat together, go on buses and planes together, you really get to know each other better,” says Caines. “We had two tough losses to end the road trip but we learned a lot and became a better and tighter team because of the road trip. We’ll be ready Friday night.”

There will be some obvious differences between this team and the one we last saw live: Joe Sullivan is firmly entrenched as the Head Coach, transition player Tyler Hass is back after missing the last eight games with a wrist injury suffered in the season opening loss at Colorado, and there are two more guys (Josh Gillam and Michael Brascia) making their Hive debuts raising the number of rookies to an astounding 11 of the 23 guys on the roster:

Here’s Caines on:

Tyler Hass (#9): “He’s big and physical with great speed who adds a lot to our transition game. He can push the ball in transition and is a big body on D… and as a second year player he’s considered a veteran on this team.”

Forward Josh Gillam (#81): “We drafted him a couple of years ago out of Dartmouth and expect a lot from him. He got his first game in last week against Washington and had an assist… he’s one of the kids who has a very bright future ahead of him.”

Defenseman Michael Brascia (#45): “He played very well in camp until he hurt his ankle and his hand. He was on the bubble but we liked the way he worked and figured we’d use him at some point this season. He’s a big, tough physical guy who will help our depth on D.”

The final push to the playoffs should be an intense one. With six games left in the regular season and only five weeks left on the calendar before the playoffs begin May 5th, simple math will tell you there has to be a back-to-back situation somewhere… and it’s happening this weekend. For the only time this season, the Swarm plays at home one night and on the road the next night… a wrinkle that can either help or hurt a young team like this one. “We’ll treat it like a pair of road games. We’ll play Friday, stay in hotels Friday night, have breakfast Saturday and fly to Edmonton in the afternoon. It’s nice to have a home game but the way the schedule works, we really can’t enjoy that as much as we’d like. We’ll be alright though… it’s how you react to things like this that really count.”

Nobody on this team is taking Calgary lightly. As noted above, the Swarm beat the Roughnecks in Calgary on March 3rd… since then they’ve won three in a row by and average margin of 7 goals and have the lowest goals against average in the National Lacrosse League. One thing that would certainly help the Swarm… getting off to a good start. In each of the Swarm’s last two losses, they had rough first halves, trailing 9-4 at the break in Buffalo and 9-3 at the half in Washington. As Caines says, “We played well in the second halves but we’ve got to be mentally prepared and play well from the opening faceoff.”

Sounds like something The Hive should be able to impact, huh?

Class dismissed.

The Toyota Professor


 

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