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Living up to expectations

02/02/2013, 11:30am CST
By Jack Satzinger

Rookies Kiel Matisz and Shayne Jackson have been key contributers in 2013

#32 Shayne Jackson Photo Credit: Scott Pierson

Three games into their respective NLL careers, Swarm rookies Kiel Matisz and Shayne Jackson have lived up to the expectations that come with being drafted in the top five of the NLL entry draft.

When a franchise adds a considerable amount of young talent, a lot of emphasis is placed on the team’s bright future. But make no mistake: Matisz and Jackson are making an immediate impact right now on offense.

Last weekend the Swarm played back-to-back games and 6-foot-5 Matisz was equally huge in each contest. The Stoney Creek, Ontario native posted hat tricks both nights to go along with four assists on the weekend. Matisz, who adopted the moniker “Moose” while at Robert Morris University, was then named the NLL’s Week #4 Rookie of the Week and has 11 points on the year (6g, 5a).  

Jackson has hat tricks in two of his first three games of the 2013 season as well, but has also had a knack for finding open teammates. In the only game where he has not scored three or more goals, Jackson dished out four assists. He has 14 points (6g, 8a) over three games this season for the third-highest total on the team.

When asked about his smooth transition to the NLL game, Jackson said, “I was playing in the summer working hard and trying to learn as much as possible from teammates. I have great teammates here in Minnesota that have been telling me what to expect during my first season, which has really helped me be effective.”

The Limestone College product has also scored four power play goals on the year and credits the presences of veterans Ryan Benesch and Callum Crawford for helping him get those opportunities. “Benny (Benesch) and Crawford do a great job of spacing the floor and grabbing the attention of the defense,” said Jackson. “When those guys are focused on I can take advantage.”

In addition to having frequent scoring outbursts, Matisz has been using his large frame to affect the game on the defensive end. Even though he is a forward, Matisz has 19 loose balls on the season: good for second-best on the team.

When asked about his defensive presence Matisz said, “I take as much pride in contributing to my team defensively as I do offensively. Loose balls are one of the most important aspects to the game and every loose ball is valuable to help our team gain momentum during the game.”

Perhaps most frightening to other NLL teams is the fact that the Matisz/Jackson combo balances the field and should be together for a number of years going forward. Matisz is right-handed, while Jackson is a lefty so the Swarm’s young dynamic forwards can play off of one another to create a synergy similar to the one Crawford and Benesch have already cultivated in Minnesota.

However, despite the potential on the Swarm roster, players are not looking ahead to future seasons. As the team’s motto, “Unfinished Business”, suggests, they want to win the Champion’s Cup this May.   

“As a rookie you try not to have too many expectations, just contribute to the team in a positive way and work hard one game at a time,” said Matisz. “The goal is to definitely be hoisting that cup at the end of the year though.”

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