Photo Credit: Perry Nelson
Edmonton, Alberta. – The Minnesota Swarm (5-7) lost a heartbreaker on the road to the Edmonton Rush (4-7) on Saturday night, falling 9-8 in overtime at Rexall Place.
Trailing 8-4 in the second quarter, head coach Joe Sullivan sent G Evan Kirk into net to replace G Tyler Carlson in an effort to re-energize his young squad. The move worked to near-perfection, literally. Kirk held the Rush scoreless for the ensuing 37 minutes as the Swarm crawled their way back and tied the game at 8-8 to force an overtime session. In that time, Kirk made 25 saves and stifled a Rush offense that scored four goals a piece in the game’s opening two quarters.
Kirk’s lights out performance would end on a sour note however as Rush F Aaron Wilson (2g, 1a) slipped the game-winner past Kirk 1:57 into overtime to give Edmonton their second straight victory. Wilson’s score was the only goal Kirk gave up on the night.
With the loss, Minnesota’s lead over Edmonton in the division now stands at a half game. In many ways, Saturday’s game was eerily similar to when the two teams met earlier this season at Xcel Energy Center on February 10. The Swarm recorded the win that night, squeaking by the Rush in overtime 10-9 in the second longest game in NLL history (72 minutes, 23 seconds).
Without its leading scorer – Ryan Benesch – for the second straight night, Minnesota’s offense struggled to find the back of the net on Saturday. Lefty F Kevin Ross (3g, 1a) put forth a valuable effort for the second game in a row and did his best to help fill the void of Benesch’s stick. Ross finished with a hat trick and scored the Swarm’s first two goals of the game. Rookie F Jay Card (2g, 1a) added his second two-goal performance in a week’s span, and scored the Swarm’s only power play goal.
Having not scored a goal yet this weekend, F Callum Crawford (1g) came through in the clutch with 5:32 remaining in the game to bring the Swarm within one at 8-7. Crawford leads Minnesota with 58 points (16g, 42a) this season. Less than a minute later, Ross snuck one past Rush G Aaron Bold to bring the game to its first tie since the opening faceoff.
In his second game with the Swarm, rookie F Josh Gillam (1g, 2a) recorded his first career NLL goal in the second quarter.
Playing against his former team, F Zack Greer (3g) led the Rush with a hat trick and Bold stopped 37 of 45 shots in the win.
Minnesota will play its final road game of the 2012 season next Friday, April 6 against the Philadelphia Wings (7-5) at 6 p.m. CT. The Swarm finishes the year with three contests at home: Washington (April 14), Philadelphia (April 21), and Colorado (April 28).
Lower level tickets to all remaining three 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 against Calgary will air on Channel 45 as a delayed broadcast this Sunday, April 1 at 4 p.m. CT.