Photo Credit: Scott Pierson
SAINT PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Swarm (8-7) won its third straight game and improved to 5-2 at home this season with a 15-10 victory against the Philadelphia Wings (7-8) on Treasure Island Field during Hive Cares Night. The Swarm played in front of their largest crowd of the year (9,357 fans) at Xcel Energy Center Saturday night.
“The guys just don’t quit,” coach Joe Sullivan said. “Other teams say it’s because we’re young, but I truly believe that we’ve come together as a group. A lot of teams throw the term family around and we really have embodied just that. These guys play for each other all of the time.”
Swarm players sported commemorative black jerseys as part of a league-wide campaign to Black Out against cancer. During Saturday’s game, Swarm players also wore #16 patches in honor of teammate D Joe Wasson, who was recently diagnosed with cancer. Proceeds of the event benefited the Randy Shaver Cancer Research & Community Fund for the second straight season.
In the win, Minnesota handed Philadelphia its fourth straight loss, and swept the regular season series (2-0) - the sweep was the Swarm’s first this season against any opponent. Minnesota has now won three straight against Philadelphia dating back to 2011.
The Swarm finished 4-2 against the East Division this season, which marks the first time the team has posted a winning record against their Eastern foes since switching to the West Division in 2009.
Forward Kevin Ross led Minnesota with nine points (5g, 4a) and recorded career-highs in goals (5) and points (9).
“Our offense is so deep with Benny coming back from injury and Callum playing some of the best lacrosse of his life, they have to concentrate on those guys,” said Ross. “They gave me a little bit more space tonight than I usually have and a few things dropped for me.”
Minnesota’s leading point scorer Callum Crawford (1g, 8a) also added nine points, and set a new personal-high in assists (8) in a single game. Crawford leads the Swarm with 77 points (23g, 54a) this season. A week removed from tallying his 100th career goal in a Swarm uniform, F Ryan Benesch (4g, 2a) tied a season-high four goals. Benesch ranks first on the team with 30 goals.
Goalie Evan Kirk (4-4) collected his second win of the season against Philadelphia, and recorded 41 saves on 51 shots in a complete game. After allowing five goals in the first quarter, Kirk limited the Wings’ offense to just five goals in the remaining three quarters of play. The Hobart College graduate leads the NLL in both GAA (9.87) and SV% (.807).
Ahead 13-7 entering the fourth quarter, Ross tallied both of the Swarm’s goals in the game’s final 15 minutes to finish the night with a career-high five scores.
Transition player Jordan MacIntosh (1g, 3a) posted the first goal of the third quarter, increasing Minnesota’s lead to 9-7. Benesch notched his fourth goal of the night, tying his season-high, to bring the score to 10-7. To round out the scoring for the third quarter, Crawford and F Corbyn Tao (1g, 1a) collected their lone goals and Ross added his third tally.
Adding his third goal of the season, F Josh Gillam (1g) notched a goal in the second quarter to tie the game up at 5-5. Early in the second quarter, Benesch chased down D Steve Holmes and knocked down his stick on a breakaway, preventing Philadelphia from reclaiming the lead. Benesch then sunk in a shorthanded goal to bring the score to 6-5, giving Minnesota its first lead of the night. From the distance, Benesch sunk his second goal of the night at the 5:42 mark to further enhance the Swarm’s lead to 7-5.
With 4:19 remaining in the quarter, 5’11” T Andrew Suitor (1a) held his own in a fight against 6’5” D Paul Dawson, but would have to finish the game off as #42 after sustaining damage to his own #20. Finishing off the quarter, Benesch tallied his third goal of the night to give Minnesota an 8-7 advantage at halftime.
In the first quarter, F Jay Card (1g, 3a) started off the scoring for Minnesota after receiving a quick pass from Ross to tie up the game at 1-1. Transition player Tyler Hass (1g) then showcased his blazing speed, outrunning three Wings players to tally his seventh goal of the season, bringing the score down to a 3-2 Wings lead. Diving across the crease, Ross put his first goal of the night between the posts to bring the score to a 5-3 Philadelphia advantage. Ross then snuck another one past the goalie to chip away at the Wing’s 5-4 lead.
Defenseman Dan Dawson (5g, 1a) led the Wings with six points. Goalie Brandon Miller registered 31 saves on 44 shots before being removed during the third quarter in favor of G Steve Fryer.
Swarm fans are encouraged to visit mnswarm.com to bid on the special edition black jerseys worn by the players Saturday night. Proceeds of the auction will help benefit the Randy Shaver Cancer Research & Community Fund. Bidding ends at 11:59pm on Wed., May 9 2012.
Tonight’s game can be viewed on KSTC-TV Channel 45 during a rebroadcast on Sunday, April 22 at 4 p.m.
Minnesota returns home for its final regular season game on Saturday, April 28 at 6:30 p.m. CT to take on the Colorado Mammoth. The game will air LIVE on national television via the CBS Sports Network. After the game, season ticket holders will be treated to an autograph session with the entire team as well as receive a team poster.
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.