DENVER, Co. – The Minnesota Swarm (10-7) defeated the Colorado Mammoth (11-6) 14-10 at Pepsi Center Saturday night in the West Divisional Semifinal. The win was Minnesota's first ever playoff win in its eight-year history.
The No. 3 Swarm beat the No. 2 Mammoth behind a supreme showing by rookie goalie Evan Kirk. The action packed game was broadcasted by CBS Sports Network and ensured Minnesota’s spot in the NLL West Division Final against the Edmonton Rush. The game will take place next Saturday at the Hive at 8:30 p.m. Tickets will go on sale Monday morning at 10 a.m.
The Swarm, who have a roster filled with many game-impacting rookies, never gave up the lead during the entire game.
“I’m ecstatic. I’m so happy for the players because they bought into a system, they stuck to that system and when there were lots of chances to stray from it, they didn’t,” said coach Joe Sullivan on Saturday’s road win. “ They were rewarded tonight.”
Kirk (5-4) was a paramount player in the Swarm’s 14-10 victory, earning him CBS Sports Network’s player of the game as well as the game ball from coach Sullivan afterward. Kirk saved 35 of 45 shots on goal in the first playoff appearance of his career.
“He gave us a chance to quiet the crowd early in the game and then he made some saves that were outstanding” Sullivan said. “He had no right making those saves and he made them time and time again against one of the best offenses in the league. We gave him the game ball tonight and deservingly so.”
Another massive part of a great team effort came from forward Ryan Benesch (3g, 4a), who was the night’s top scorer with an impressive seven points, including a hat trick. Other notable performances include forward Kevin Ross (2g, 1a), who notched two goals tonight and has been very consistent, scoring in every game this season.
The Swarm are 9-0 this year when leading after the 3rd quarter, and held that record intact with a solid fourth quarter. Rookie T Jordan Macintosh (1g, 1a) scored a clutch goal in the fourth quarter to bring the score to 11-9, which ended a scoreless streak that began with 2:32 remaining in the third quarter. Macintosh also contributed by winning 13 of his 23 faceoffs.
Callum Crawford (1g, 4a) lead the team in assists and sealed the game with his goal in the 4th quarter, bringing the score to 13-9. The last goal scored by the Swarm was an open netter by transition player Andrew Watt (2g).
Minnesota led the entire game, but faced several valid comebacks from Colorado. Nonethless, the Swarm never panicked in crunch time.
“It’s a lot to do with the movement we made along with all of these young guys. When you have young guys and you show them the way and they gain and trust everything, they understand there are going to be ups and downs. My job is to weather and storm with them,” said coach Sullivan.
The Swarm was dominant in the first quarter with forward Corbyn Tao (1g, 1a) scoring on the Swarm’s second possession. The Swarm scored four more decisive goals, including one from transition player Rich Morgan (1g). Colorado tried to fight back but was only able to score twice, leaving the score 5-2 after the first.
The second quarter was intense with both teams spending time in the penalty box. Colorado attempted to retaliate by increasing their shots on goal but Watt scored on a break away, his first of two for the night, during a Colorado power play. A Minnesota power play allowed Benesch to bury another shot for a hat trick, retiring the second quarter with a score of 8-5.
The game continued to heat up in the third quarter with a break away goal by transition player Tyler Hass (1g). Colorado forward John Grant Jr. (5g 2a) tried to fire up Colorado’s offense, adding two goals of his own, but came up short. Ross was able to score a second time, inducing a third quarter score of 10-7.
The win, which is Minnesota’s first ever playoff victory, continues a streak of five straight wins. The Swarm will host Edmonton for the West Division Championship at Treasure Island Field at Xcel Energy Center next Saturday, May 12th at 8:30 p.m. CT and will be broadcast live on CBS Sports Network. Tickets go on sale Monday, May 7th at 10:00 a.m. CT.
Call 1-888-MN-SWARM or visit mnswarm.com for more information on how to purchase Swarm tickets.