SAINT PAUL, Minn. –The Minnesota Swarm (7-7) defeated the Washington Stealth (4-10) 14-9 and clinched a playoff spot for the sixth time in team history on Treasure Island Field in front of 8,239 fans at Xcel Energy Center. Minnesota improved to 4-2 at home on the season.
With the win, the Swarm ended the regular season series 2-1 against the Stealth for the second straight season. The team picked up its first win against Washington on the road on Feb. 24 with a 15-7 victory.
“We’ve been able to taste what the playoffs taste like for the last couple years. Getting by the first round is an immediate goal because we have to get better every year; that’s the goal of this organization and the way to do that is winning playoff games,” forward Callum Crawford said, who leads the Swarm with 68 points.
Minnesota got strong production from its leading two leading scorers Saturday night in Crawford (4g, 3a) and Ryan Benesch (1g, 4a). Crawford led Minnesota with seven points and recorded a hat trick in the first quarter. He ended the game with four goals, his most since week one. Returning to the floor for the first time since sustaining a concussion on March 25 in Washington, Benesch recorded his 100th goal with Minnesota in the fourth quarter. Benesch is the third player in Swarm history to reach the 100-goal mark and joins the ranks with former Swarm forwards Sean Pollock (131g) and Ryan Ward (114g).
“It feels pretty good to join Sean Pollock and Ryan Ward, who have got that milestone too. It’s nice to be a part of their company now because they’re two great players,” Benesch said.
Goalie Tyler Carlson (4-2) recorded 46 saves on 55 shots in 60 minutes of play.
Notching the first goal of the fourth quarter, F Josh Gillam (1g, 3a) added his second career NLL goal and his first at Xcel Energy Center. Giving the Swarm an 11-5 edge over the Stealth, F Andrew Suitor (1g) recorded his 14th goal of the season. Benesch netted his 100th goal, which was quickly followed with a goal by F Joel Henry (1g, 1a) to put the Swarm up 13-7. After Washington pulled its goalie, F David Earl (1g) sunk the final Swarm goal to put the score at 14-8.
Adding the lone goal of the third quarter, F Kevin Ross (1g, 3a) collected his 22nd of the season. Minnesota held a 9-5 lead at the end of the third quarter. With the win, the Swarm is now 6-0 for the 2012 season when leading after the third quarter.
Crawford notched his fourth goal of the game in the second quarter to give Minnesota a 6-3 advantage. Assisted by Crawford’s hot stick, rookie F Corbyn Tao (1g, 4a) added his 17th career goal to bring the score to a 7-3 Swarm lead. Defending his home turf, a fight broke out in the second quarter between Swarm Captain Andrew Suitor and Stealth D Matt Beers. Suitor knocked Beers to the ground during the fight, with both landing in the penalty box for five minutes. On the breakaway, D Dan Ball (1g) registered the last Minnesota goal of the first half and his first career goal in the NLL. Minnesota led Washington 8-5 at halftime.
In the first quarter, the Stealth jumped off to an early 2-0 lead 25 seconds into the game. Crawford netted the first Swarm goal to chip away at the Stealth’s 2-1 advantage. Rookie T Jordan MacIntosh (2g, 1a) then posted two goals to give Minnesota a 3-2 edge over Washington. Launching one from the distance, Crawford snuck his second goal of the night past the goalie to put the Swarm up 4-2. Crawford then recorded his third goal to give Minnesota a 5-2 lead at the end of the first.
Forward Lewis Ratcliff (2g, 4a) led Washington with six points. Goalie Tyler Richards made 45 saves on 59 shots for the Stealth
Tonight’s game can be viewed on KSTC-TV Channel 45 during a rebroadcast on Sunday, April 15 at 4 p.m.
The Swarm returns home on Saturday, April 21 for Hive Cares Night. The team will sport commemorative black jerseys as part of a league-wide campaign to raise money and increase awareness of cancer as they take on the Philadelphia Wings at 7 p.m. For the second season, proceeds of the event will benefit the Randy Shaver Cancer Research & Community Fund, an organization that supports the cancer community in Minnesota by funding research, prevention, treatment and other programs relating to the cancer community.
Tickets for the remaining regular season home games start as low as $20 and can be purchased by calling 1-888-MN-SWARM or visiting mnswarm.com.