#20 Andrew Suitor
SAINT PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Swarm (1-2) will hit the road this Saturday, Feb. 2 to face the Colorado Mammoth (1-2) in a divisional clash at Pepsi Center. Faceoff is set for 8 p.m. CT and the game can be viewed live online at Swarm Vision on mnswarm.com and on the Altitude channel for Dish Network and DirecTV subscribers.
Saturday’s matchup marks the first meeting between the two teams at Pepsi Center since Minnesota won 14-10 behind seven points (3g, 4a) from F Ryan Benesch in the 2012 West Division Semifinals last May. The win was the Swarm’s first ever playoff victory, and advanced the team to the West Division Finals against Edmonton.
Minnesota won its first game of the 2013 season last Saturday, knocking off the Washington Stealth (3-2) 15-14 in the team’s home opener on Treasure Island Field. Benesch (3g, 4a) along with rookies F Shayne Jackson (3g, 3a) and T Kiel Matisz (3g, 2a) recorded hat tricks to fuel the Swarm’s offense. Matisz was named the Week #4 Rookie of the Week on Wednesday, after he totaled 10 points (6g, 4a) in the team’s back-to-back against Toronto and Washington.
“We basically took the reins off him last week to let him go and see what he could do at the front door and subsequently he answered like we knew he would,” said Swarm head coach Joe Sullivan on Matisz’s performances last weekend.
Minnesota is back on the road this weekend, where it has faced some unfortunate results early in the season; the Swarm is 0-2 away from Xcel Energy Center, but both losses have come by a combined total of two goals against Toronto and Buffalo. The positive news for the Swarm is that in those two losses, the team held leads late in the fourth quarter in hostile road environments.
With Minnesota and Colorado each sitting at 1-2 this weekend, Sullivan said both teams will be hungry to get back to .500 and stay atop the division standings.
“Nobody wants to go 1-3 when you’re right within grasp to get to .500, and get back into the winning column. You don’t want to go the other way,” Sullivan said. “They’ve made a big change in their goalie situation, so they’re going to be feeling good and hungry to get that win for their fans. It’s going to be tough, and it’s going to be a real battle, but we wouldn’t expect any different going into Colorado.”
Minnesota and Colorado met earlier this winter in an exhibition contest during training camp. Sullivan said the team can use a lot of what they saw that evening to prepare for this weekend’s game.
“I still think we got a good look at what their coach (Bob Hamley) was trying to put in place there, and he was trying to energize them, size them up and make them a little quicker,” Sullivan said. “I wouldn’t think that he would change anything up this weekend.”
The all-time series between Minnesota and Colorado is tied at 7-7, and the Swarm has won seven of the past nine matchups.
Fans looking to watch this weekend’s game can head to the team’s official fan viewing party at Sweetwater Bar & Grill at the Best Western Kelly Inn in St. Paul at 8 p.m.
Swarm fans looking to lock up 2013 Season Tickets can take advantage of a Buy 2, Get 2 at 50% offer. By purchasing two season tickets at full price, fans can add an additional two tickets for half the cost. Single Game Tickets start as low as $21 for all eight home games in 2013. For purchasing information on both Season and Single Game Tickets, fans can call 1-888-MN-SWARM