Minnesota hosts its first home game since Feb. 18 this Friday.
SAINT PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Swarm (5-5) will make its return to Treasure Island Field at Xcel Energy Center this Friday, March 30 for a divisional matchup against the Calgary Roughnecks (8-3). Faceoff is set for 7:30 p.m. CT and the Swarm will be honoring local military members, veterans, police officers, firefighters and nurses for Heroes Night at the Hive.
The Swarm wrapped up their four-game road trip, which lasted almost a month and half, last Sunday with a 20-13 loss to the Washington Stealth (4-8). Minnesota finished the trip 2-2, and picked up wins against Washington (15-7) and Calgary (15-11).
“Anytime a team can split its games on the road, that’s looked at as a positive,” head coach Joe Sullivan said. “Although, I would say circumstantially there are some things we could have done differently. The guys worked hard, and I would never question their work ethic.”
This weekend marks the first back-to-back the Swarm will face this season. After taking on the Roughnecks, Minnesota will fly to Edmonton the following morning to face the Rush (3-7) for an 8 p.m. CT meeting that evening. The Swarm defeated Edmonton in overtime 10-9 earlier this season in what turned out to be the second longest game in NLL history (72 minutes, 23 seconds). With two wins this weekend, Minnesota will sweep both season series’ 2-0.
“It’s tough to get prepared for both games, but that’s the nature of our league and that’s how it’s been,” Sullivan said. “We’re going to get ready for a great game on both nights. Playing two division games… each game is so important in terms of trying to solidify a playoff spot.”
Minnesota sits three games behind Calgary for second place in the West, and holds a two-game advantage over the last place Rush. The Roughnecks, along with first-place Colorado (9-3) have already clinched playoff spots. To a certain degree, Sullivan admitted that this weekend’s matchup against Calgary will have a playoff-type feel to it.
“We don’t want to fall down in the standings, we want to move up,” Sullivan said. “We’re not taking our eyes off Calgary or Colorado. They may have solidified things for themselves at this point, but we’re looking at what’s important to us right now, and that’s trying to knock off one of these big teams.”
Currently in the midst of a two-game losing streak, Sullivan is hoping to get his team back on track after the Swarm started out the season 5-3, which was their best start at the midway point since 2008. To get back in front of their home crowd will be beneficial, Sullivan said. Minnesota is 3-1 at home in 2012 and has yet to play at The Hive since Feb. 18.
“Our fans are incredible. They’re loud, they’re smart, and they’re behind us 100-percent,” he added. “We want to bring them a win.”
Forwards Ryan Benesch (25g, 29a) and Callum Crawford (15g, 38a) continue to spark Minnesota’s offense this season and are on pace to once again finish among the league leaders in scoring. Benesch has tallied 99 career goals in a Swarm uniform and is looking to become the third player in team history to surpass 100 goals. Led by Benesch and Crawford, Minnesota’s offense has featured a balanced scoring attack this season, and the team continues to lead the league in shorthanded goals with 12. Eight different players recorded a goal last Sunday, which included a hat trick from T Andrew Suitor, and two goals apiece from T Andrew Watt, F Jay Card, and T Jordan MacIntosh.
Despite giving up 20 goals last weekend in Washington, which tied a season-high, Sullivan is confident that his young squad will bounce back on defense.
“What I’ll communicate to them (defense) and the whole team is that it starts from everybody,” he said. “Everybody has a hand in it.
“Yeah we gave up a lot of goals, but it’s a learning curve. We knew that we were going to face that. Like I’ve said before, we’re not so remiss to think that we’re going to roll through this league because we’re young, aggressive and athletic. There’s going to be bumps and it’s my job to communicate to them that everyone has to do their job.”
Lower level tickets to all remaining four home games in 2012 start as low as $20 and can be purchased by calling 1-888-MN-SWARM or visiting mnswarm.com.
Friday’s contest will air on Channel 45 as a delayed broadcast this Sunday, April 1 at 4 p.m. CT. Fans can also watch both games this weekend LIVE on the NLL Network by visiting NLL.com