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Toyota Professor: Unfinished Business

01/23/2013, 3:00pm CST
By The Toyota Professor

The Toyota Professor is back once again to preview this year's home opener

May 12, 2012… an early spring Saturday night at the Xcel Energy Center that had all the makings for an historic evening in Swarm history.  Hosting the first Western Conference final in the franchise’s eight years of existence, the Swarm and the faithful fans in attendance could hardly wait.

We all know how that night ended.  It hurt each and every member of the Swarm family… we all felt the pain of that loss.  I came home to my daughters in tears… for the first time in their lives they felt the sting of wanting a win so bad that it hurt.  One wrote to me… “It was a bummer to see them lose.  My dream of them holding that championship trophy will have to wait until next year.  PS: We are the Warriors!”  Well sweetheart, it is next year RIGHT NOW and no one has forgotten the pain of the loss.  No one… especially the guys whose job it is to make sure that never happens again.  “Our motto this year is unfinished business,” says Swarm Assistant Coach Aime Caines. “What happened last year is huge motivation for us this year. It sticks with you and caused me and the rest of the guys many sleepless nights.  We came so close and we have every intention of getting back to where we were last year. I lost a title game when I played and we came back the next year and won it all.  That’s what we mean by unfinished business.”

All of the news coming out of Swarm HQ these last eight months has been great… the draft was an unprecedented success in team and league history.  Adding three of the top four picks (and four of the top ten) was a strategic coup by John and Andy Arlotta and Head Coach Joe Sullivan… and the additions are practically guaranteed to make this year’s team that much better.  Here’s Caines on each of the four top picks:

1. (T) Brock Sorenson: Ohio State University (#2 overall pick)

His size (6’6”, 220 lbs.) and athleticism really stick out. He’s a big man with excellent footwork and stick skills. He’s not someone who needs to wait to succeed in this league… he’ll have an instant impact coming out the back door (on defense).”

2. (F) Kiel Matisz: Robert Morris University (#3 overall pick)

“He’s got a big body too (6’5”, 215 lbs.)…he’s the total package. He can play D but he can also play on offense and put up big numbers.  He had a very strong training camp… he’s everything we hoped for and more.”

3. (F) Shayne Jackson: Limestone College (#4 overall pick)

“He had a hat trick in his first game (vs. Buffalo on January 12th) which got his confidence going. He’s a smaller guy (5’9”) but one who remains very patient with and without the ball.  He played man-up like he’s been in the league for many years.  I’m excited to see what he can do this year.”

4. (D) Alex Crepinsek: RIT (#10 overall pick… Shayne’s roommate along with Joel Henry)

“He’s very aggressive and great on loose balls.  He’s an excellent defender with good size (5’11”, 185 lbs.) who’ll give offensive teams plenty of sleepless nights after they see what he can do on D.”

Last year the Swarm was the youngest team in the league… and this year they’re even younger.  Averaging just over 25 years old, the youth movement plan that was executed nearly to perfection last year is once again in play. “We proved the concept last year,” says Caines. “We won with young guys who matured over the course of the season.  We expect the same thing to happen this year. The young guys bring excitement you can’t replicate. If anything we have to tone them down and make sure they play within our system.  It’s like breaking a wild horse… but when you do you have a thoroughbred.”

Expectations are sky high for this year’s team.  While many teams and prognosticators had no idea what to expect last year, there’ll be no sneaking up on the competition this season. The core of last year’s team is back this year: Standout young goalies Evan Kirk and Tyler Carlson, the steady defense of Jeff Gilbert, the face-off prowess of Jordan MacIntosh, the scoring punch of Callum Crawford and Ryan Benesch along with the very real PUNCH of Captain Andrew Suitor (last year’s Transition Player of the Year), anything less than a Western Conference title would be a letdown. “We want to win the Champion’s Cup… we’ve made no secret about that,” says Caines. “There are nine teams in the league who think they can win it all and so do we.  We proved last year our system works.  We want to get in the playoffs and take it one step further.”

Class Dismissed

The Toyota Professor

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