Saint Paul, Minn. – The Swarm (4-7) beat the West Division-leading Washington Stealth (7-5) 12-5 Saturday night in a game that was ripe with record breaking.
Minnesota sported green uniforms on the night in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, which could have been the good luck charm the team needed to halt their three game losing streak. The commemorative jerseys were a part of the franchise’s fourth annual “Hive Cares Night” to raise funds for the Randy Shaver Cancer Research and Community Fund. The uniforms can be bid on by fans at auctions.mnswarm.com; all proceeds will benefit cancer research. Over the past two seasons, the Minnesota Swarm has helped raise more than $36,000 for the Randy Shaver Cancer Research and Community Fund and the organization set a personal goal of $30,000 alone for tonight.
Forward Ryan Benesch recorded a hat trick and one assist in the game to reach 132 goals in just his fourth season in Minnesota, becoming the Swarm’s all-time leading goal scorer. The record was previously held by Sean Pollock with 131. Entering the game, the Kitchener, Ontario native said that the key to winning the contest was 60 minutes of balanced effort.
“There are games where our offense has played outstanding, but our defense and back end hasn’t been there for us,” said Benesch. “We’ve also had nights where our ‘D’ was great and offense wasn’t able to get it done. We just have to learn to pull this together as a group and play a full 60 minutes.”
Minnesota did just that Saturday night, allowing only five goals (the fewest scored in an NLL game this season), while also providing ample firepower in front of a home crowd of 7,830.
One week removed from a career-high 10-point game, Swarm forward Callum Crawford had another night to remember. The Ottawa, Ontario native recorded 8 points (4g, 4a) to lead all players and score his 100th goal and 300th point in a Swarm uniform. Crawford also set the franchise record for assists with 202.
“To be honest, I didn’t know anything about these personal milestones until people started publishing them,” said Crawford. “These records are great to have, but a Champions Cup is all I really care about in my career, so hopefully we can build on this and work towards that.”
Goaltender Tyler Carlson was phenomenal, allowing only five goals on the night and making 48 saves. The Swarm netminder also posted a sensational .906 save percentage. His incredible goaltending notwithstanding, Carlson contributed on the offensive end as well, recording his first two assists of the season.
On the receiving end of one of Carlson’s assists was Jay Card. The second-year forward scored twice on the night, most notably on a shorthanded goal to kick off the second half. The Swarm were playing two men down on the sequence, but did not fail to extend their halftime advantage to 7-2 as Card found the back of the net for the seventh time this year. Moments after Card’s goal, Carlson was everywhere, blocking multiple shots and effectively killing the Washington power play.
“It was only a matter of time before he started to see the ball better,” said Swarm head coach Joe Sullivan of Carlson. “That’s a testament to our defense playing tighter and smarter…when he (Carlson) gets a good look on the ball he’s going to make the save more times than not.”
Earlier this week the Swarm brought forward Josh Gillam up to the active roster and he answered the call to the tune of three points (1g, 2a). Gillam was a Swarm rookie last season, but made his season debut Saturday night after finishing a stint in professional hockey.
Rookie Matt Gibson scored the second goal of his career on a fourth quarter feed from Jordan MacIntosh. MacIntosh recorded five assists on the night and corralled a game-high 11 loose balls. Defenseman Jeff Gilbert recorded his first multi-point game of the season with two assists of his own.
NLL leading goal scorer Rhys Duch led the way for Washington with four points (2g, 2a) in the loss.
Saturday night’s win gave Minnesota a 2-1 advantage in their season series against Washington and the Swarm is now 7-0 all-time against the Stealth in home regular season games. Minnesota is just 2.5 games back of the West Division-leading Stealth with five games remaining in the regular season.
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 or visit mnswarm.com