Photo Credit: Alex Carroll
“Revenge is a dish best served cold.” This quote, historically attributed to Don Corleone in The Godfather, can actually be traced back hundreds of years before Mario Puzo was even born… way back before another fine writer, William Shakespeare, employed his quill pen. However, I’m not a professor of etymology… I’m the Professor of Lacrosse with a PhD in Baggataway from UW-LaCrosse. So rather than ponder the origins of the phrase, I’ll choose instead to consider the relevance of it to this weekend’s Swarm doubleheader against the hated Edmonton Rush.
The last time we saw the black and gray clad Rush, they were running wild over our beloved Swarm in the West Division championship game at The Hive last May. That 15-3 drubbing has sat in everyone’s craw since that fateful night… and now it’s time for payback. “It’s certainly in the back of our minds,” says Swarm Assistant Coach Aime Caines. “But we have to make sure we concentrate on these games as new games and take them one at a time. We can’t undo what happened last May… we remember it well and it motivates us but this weekend is too important to this season to worry about re-shaping anything that happened last year.”
In a rare Friday/Sunday home and home doubleheader, the Swarm head to Edmonton for Friday’s tilt, then everyone travels together like a barnstorming baseball team from the 20’s southeast to Minnesota for Sunday afternoon’s “Dog Day at the Hive” clash. Quoting another famous idiom; “Familiarity breeds contempt”. “We’ll know each other pretty well after this weekend,” deadpans Caines. “I’m not sure we’ll be on the same plane as them but it’ll be like a best of three miniseries in baseball. One thing I like about it is it’ll help our preparation since we don’t have to study another team this week. Plus we’ll learn a lot from Friday’s game which we can use to prepare for Sunday. Other than that, we need to focus on what we can do to turn things around.”
Although it’s still early in the season, this weekend will undoubtedly have playoff implications. With two games against a division rival this is clearly the biggest weekend series of the year. As for the Rush, they’re flying high… coming off a convincing weekend sweep of the Washington Stealth (15-10 at Edmonton Friday night) and the Colorado Mammoth (14-7 in Denver Saturday night). Their confidence is soaring in front of goaltender Aaron Bold who continues to shine (he owns the third best goals against average in the league) while NLL scoring leader Mark Mathews (23 goals, six Friday against Washington and five Saturday against Colorado) is surprising everyone as he makes his emphatic case for Rookie of the Year honors. “Matthews is proving why he was the number one pick in the draft,” warns Caines. “He’s on fire right now but we can’t just focus on him or we’ll get burned on D by their other forwards. It’s like when we play Colorado… we don’t only concentrate on John Grant Jr. We need to stay in our defensive system and be aware of where Mathews is and take on their whole offense, not one guy.” To underscore Caines’ point, understand the Rush also has former Swarm forwards Ryan Ward (13 goals, 2nd most on the team) and Zack Greer (7 goals) as well as Swarm nemesis Corey Small (10 goals).
The Swarm is coming off one of the more frustrating losses in team history last Saturday night. If not for three fourth quarter shorthanded goals by Calgary’s Curtis Dickson, the Swarm would be entering this weekend’s games at .500. Instead they’re 2-4 but just a half game back of the Rush. “Look… three of our four losses have been by one goal. One goal… that’s incredible,” laments Caines. “We have 16 guys with less than two years in the league. We’re young so we have to make sure our guys stay focused. We’ve done some great things even against Calgary coming back from a huge deficit to a very good team. Unfortunately we lost and everything is magnified. The only way to make it go away is to win. And that starts Friday.”
Here’s hoping “The Rush sleeps with the fishes.”
The Toyota Professor