Ten games down, 6 to go, 4 at The Hive… and while the skies are certainly gray the Swarm still remains in a dogfight for a playoff spot in the West Division. As Churchill said during the darkest hours of the Blitzkrieg… “It's not enough that we do our best; sometimes we have to do what's required.” This weekend against the West-leading Washington Stealth what is required is simple… win. “We’re very focused now,” says Swarm Assistant Coach Aime Caines. “These last six games are our playoffs. We need to win at least four of them and being tied with Colorado and facing them twice at the end of the year, we’re still in control of our own destiny. But no doubt about it… we’ve got to win now.”
Once Captain Andrew Suitor went down with a season ending knee injury against Edmonton on February 22nd, the Swarm has been in a nosedive, losing three straight by an aggregate score of 44-32. But this weekend’s Hive Cares game is exactly the elixir the team needs to turn things around and get back to doing what they do best… fight for every loose ball, rebound and goal. The little things add up over the course of a game… “We’ve lost three games but the effort has been there,” says Caines. “We need to play a full 60 minutes. We’ve had games where we score 15 which is great but we give up 19. To make a run we need all facets of our game to work well at the same time for the full game. Offense, defense and goaltending… I expect to see that Saturday.”
The Washington Stealth bring a particular challenge to the Hive… they’re among the top scoring teams in the league (12.5 goals per game) while also being among the stingiest on defense (giving up just 11.6 goals per game, second best in the West). “Washington is hot,” says Caines. “I just watched tape of their game against Philly last weekend and they dominated them. But we know them very well and we play well against them.” But as that sentence ends, Caines jumps in with more; “But let me tell you this. When you lose everything is magnified. We’re still the youngest team in the league by far and we have a lot to prove. Good teams focus on what they have, not what they lack. I know, after these last three games, we’ve got to get our minds wrapped around that aspect of the game. We’ll be prepared Saturday.”
This season has proven to be a particularly rough one due in large part to their heart and soul spending more time in a suit on the sidelines than as “Suits” prowling the turf. The Captain missed the first two games of the year serving a suspension and he’s been out of service for nearly a month. Yet after talking with him this week, it’s hard not to believe this team will turn the corner. “We’re looking for an identity right now but let me tell you something… no one should question the work ethic of this team… we’re busting our butts out there every night and it’s obvious this weekend is the biggest weekend of the year,” says Suitor with his trademark intensity. “Last year Edmonton came into the playoffs as the 4th place team in the West and they made it to the Champion’s Cup. We need to win more games than Colorado… it’s as simple as that. We’re obviously not happy with where we are but you’ll see a new look this weekend. We’re gonna get on track Saturday I guarantee it.”
Sounds Churchill-esque, doesn’t it? And you know how his fight ended!
The Toyota Professor