Photo Credit: Alex Carroll
SAINT PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Swarm (3-5) travel to Everett, Wash. this Sunday, March 3 to face the Washington Stealth (5-4) at 5 p.m. CT. Over the past three seasons, the Swarm is 5-2 against the Stealth in the regular season, and recently knocked off their division foe in a thrilling 15-14 contest at Treasure Island Field during the team’s home opener on Jan. 26.
After splitting last week’s doubleheader against the Edmonton Rush (4-5), Minnesota sits 1.5 games behind the Stealth and Calgary Roughnecks (5-4) for first place in the West Division. Having reached the midway point this season, the Swarm has made it their mission to catch the teams atop the division in the second half of 2013.
“That’s our goal,” Swarm head coach Joe Sullivan said. “If we go 6-2 in the back half of the season, that would put us where we were last year, and we’d be in good shape. In order to get there, we’ll need to be more responsible on defense and we’ll have to take advantage of our chances on offense.”
In last Friday’s tilt in Edmonton, the Swarm lost captain Andrew Suitor to a season-ending ACL injury. The absence of Suitor for the remainder of the 2013 season will force some of the Swarm’s veteran players to step into leadership roles. Coach Sullivan said everyone on the team will need to hold themselves accountable however in order to fill the void left by the team’s energetic captain.
“We’ve announced that Callum Crawford is now our captain, but I wouldn’t put the leadership duties on just one player,” Sullivan said. “Ryan Benesch has taken more responsibility as well, but everyone needs to pick up the slack and be accountable.”
Since returning from a lower body injury on Feb. 22, Crawford has posted a team-high 12 assists in two games. Benesch has dished out eight assists in that time, and currently leads the Swarm with 45 points (18g, 27a). The talented lefty forward from Kitchener, Ontario is five points away from becoming the third player in team history to reach the 300-point mark in a Swarm uniform.
On Wednesday, the NLL announced that Swarm transition players Jordan MacIntosh and rookie Kiel Matisz were named the recipients of the Transition and Rookie of the Week awards. MacIntosh is currently third in the league in both loose balls (86) and faceoff wins (114). Matisz leads all first-year players with three Rookie of the Week awards, and has won the award in back-to-back weeks. The Stoney Creek, Ontario native recorded his second career hat trick in Minnesota’s win against the Stealth in January, and finished with five points (3g, 2a).
After missing the playoffs last season, Washington has already totaled more wins in nine games than they did all of last season (4). The Stealth rank second in the NLL in scoring with 111 goals in nine games, and is led by forwards Rhys Duch (25g, 26a) and Lewis Ratcliff (16g, 19a).
“The Stealth have a dynamic offense and some talented forwards in Rhys Duch and Lewis Ratcliff,” Sullivan said. “If we play physical and cash in on our chances, we’ll be very competitive this weekend.”
Fans can watch Sunday’s game on Swarm Vision by visiting mnswarm.com or at the Sweetwater Grill & Bar inside the Downtown St. Paul Kelly Inn during the team’s official viewing party.
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 remaining home games in 2013. For purchasing information on both Season and Single Game Tickets, fans can call 1-888-MN-SWARM.