Rookie forward Jay Card tallied two goals in last week's 14-10 playoff road win in Colorado. Photo Credit: Alex Carroll
SAINT PAUL, Minn. – After collecting its first ever playoff victory last weekend, the No. 3 Minnesota Swarm (10-7) returns to action this weekend when it hosts the No. 4 Edmonton Rush (7-10) in the West Division Finals Saturday, May 12 on Treasure Island Field at 8:30 p.m. CT. Minnesota has won five straight games dating back to April 6 and will play in front of a nationally televised audience on CBS Sports Network for the third consecutive week.
In the West Divisional Semifinals, the Swarm defeated the No. 2 Colorado Mammoth (11-6) 14-10 in front of 14,152 fans on the road at Pepsi Center. Forward Ryan Benesch led the Swarm with a playoff career-high seven points (3g, 4a), and goalie Evan Kirk stopped 37 of 47 shots to pick up his first career postseason victory.
“It was a pretty short-lived celebration,” head coach Joe Sullivan said. “It was a great thing, but it wasn’t something I communicated about much beforehand because I didn’t want our team dwelling on what some of our old teams hadn't been able to do. It was more about what we were going to do.”
The winner of the West Division Finals advances to the Champion’s Cup next weekend and meets either the No. 1 Toronto Rock (10-7) or No. 2 Rochester Knighthawks (8-9) from the East Division. If both Minnesota and Rochester win, the Swarm will host the Champion’s Cup next Sunday, May 20 at 1 p.m. CT on CBS Sports Network.
Edmonton also pulled off a thrilling road playoff victory in the first round of the playoffs, defeating the No. 1 Calgary Roughnecks (12-5) 19-11. To many around the lacrosse world, this Saturday’s matchup comes as a surprise as the top two seeds in the NLL playoffs had to be eliminated in the process.
“We’re looking at two teams that are on hot streaks, and two teams that have really turned their seasons around,” said Sullivan about Minnesota and Edmonton.
The Swarm split the regular season series 1-1 with the Rush and both games ended in overtime victories for the respective home team. Minnesota handed the Rush a 10-9 overtime loss back on Feb. 10 at Xcel Energy Center in the second longest game in NLL history (72 minutes, 23 seconds). Most recently, the Rush defeated the Swarm at Rexall Place 9-8 in OT on March 31. In the loss, Kirk held Edmonton scoreless for over 37 minutes of gametime before giving up the game-winner goal in overtime.
“Those were probably about as tight of games as you’re ever going to find in lacrosse,” Sullivan said. “In both games, the other team had to adapt to get back in the game. Physical, fast, tight-checking, probably a low scoring game is what I think we’re going to see this weekend.”
Saturday’s meeting has big implications for both clubs, as the winner will advance to their first ever Champion’s Cup. Minnesota will get the opportunity to do so in front of its home crowd where it finished 6-2 in the regular season, which tied a franchise record.
“It’s huge,” Sullivan said. “We went to Colorado and played in front of 14,000 fans and it was incredibly loud. We hope to be able to do the same this week. The chance to play in such a monumental game is big for the Swarm franchise.”
One of the keys to last weekend’s victory was the fact that the Swarm had nine players tally goals. Minnesota also finished 5-for-7 on the power play against Colorado.
“That’s going to be a key to our success," Sullivan said. “We can’t have one or two guys scoring, but we have to move that ball around and share the offensive duties.”
The all-time regular season series between Minnesota and Edmonton is tied 4-4. This is the first ever playoff meeting between the two teams. Minnesota is 9-0 when leading after three quarters this year.
Earlier this week, the NLL announced Minnesota's John Arlotta as the General Manager of the Year and Joe Sullivan as the Head Coach of the Year. The Swarm’s roster featured a league-high 12 rookies this season and was the league’s youngest team.
Playoff tickets can be purchased online by visiting ticketmaster.com and are also available over the phone by calling 1-888-MN-SWARM. Ticket prices will remain the same as regular season tickets and start as low as $20. The Swarm is offering a Fishing Widows discount where wives who are losing their husbands to the fishing opener this weekend can purchase discounted playoff tickets.
Fans heading out to this Saturday's game can enjoy a pre-game party at Iron Range Grill from 7 to 8 p.m. located on the main concourse level of Xcel Energy Center. KFAN 100.3 FM's Henry Lake and Joe Nelson will be on hand to broadcast a LIVE one-hour pre-game show, which will feature Swarm guests. The Iron Range Grill is located at Gate 4 and behind Section 119.
To find out what channel CBS Sports Network is shown on in your area, visit http://www.cbssportsnetwork.com/channelfinder
By Maria Jollie
Thank you Swarm fans for your continued energy this year. You have helped this team make history by competing in the West Division Final for the first time in franchise history. Your screaming, cheering, dancing, and enthusiasm have inspired your team to greatness. Your rookie charged Swarm will only get better so you have even more excitement to look forward to next year at the Hive.
Keep Swarming and be ready for a big season next year!
Final – Swarm 3 Rush 15
End of 3rd Quarter - Swarm 2 Rush 13
3rd quarter 4:57 - Your boys are looking for second chances in the second half. Minnesota scores on a powerplay with Tao notching his the second of the game. Let’s rally!
Swarm 2 Edmonton 12
Half Time - Swarm 1 Rush 11
2nd Quarter 6:47 - The Swarm start to heat up on defense by shutting down the Rush for four minutes of a Rush powerplay but we let one slip in when both teams have a player in the box. Time to get the offense fired up!
Swarm 1 Rush 8
End of 1st Quarter - The Rush have scored another unfortunate set of goals but we continue to fight. The Swarm aim to tame by replacing Carlson with G Evan Kirk and start buzzing as we try to prove we still have that spark. Keep Swarming as we look ahead to improvement in the next quarter.
Swarm 1 Rush 6
12:07 - Tyler Carlson starts in goal for the Swarm tonight, he is looking for his first post season win. He let’s an early goal in, but the Swarm come back with a shot to score by F Corbyn Tao, his second of the playoffs. His rocket had no chance of being saved.
Swarm 1 Rush 1
In other exciting news, the Rochester Knighthawks have won the NLL East Division final and will be the opponent for next weekends NLL Champions Cup. This means that a Swarm victory tonight will earn us a home game for the Champions Cup next weekend.
Welcome to a very exciting evening, Swarm fans! Tonight’s game represents the result of Minnesota’s first ever playoff win and the victor of tonight’s contest will win the NLL West Final and play again next weekend for the Champions Cup against either No. 1 Toronto (10-7) or No. 2 Rochester (8-9) from the East. Tonight's game is the Swarm's third consecutive game to be broadcasted live on CBS Sports network.
Anticipation for this night is tremendous, and rightly so. The last two meetings between the Minnesota Swarm and the Edmonton Rush have gone into overtime, one of which is slated as the longest game in league history. Each team has won in their respective arenas and we are looking for the same conclusion tonight at the Hive.
Your Swarm has won five straight games and finished the regular season 4-0 in the month of April, which set a team record for best finish in April and most consecutive wins prior to the post season. Our boys are on a hot streak; let’s keep our trail blazing!
Stay tuned for live updates on this historic night at the Hive.