Saint Paul, Minn.– The Swarm (6-8) will play the Colorado Mammoth (6-8) Saturday night 8 p.m. CT at the Pepsi Center in Denver. The divisional matchup will be the second meeting of the year for Minnesota and Colorado, who will face each other again April 20 in Saint Paul in a regular season finale that should have immense postseason implications.
Heading into the game, both franchises have identical records and are fighting with one another for the West Division’s final playoff spot. Winning both of the remaining games against Colorado would ensure Minnesota a playoff berth and allow the team to finish the regular season at .500. However, head coach Joe Sullivan stresses the importance of beating the Mammoth on the road so that the Swarm controls its own destiny heading into the last week of the season.
“We want to finish on a winning note,” Sullivan said. “I don’t think it’s crucial to win both of these games against the Mammoth, but in order to control our own destiny and get into the playoffs we need to take matters into our own hands and get a win this weekend. After that we can look forward to solidifying our playoff position with a win at home to finish out the regular season.”
The Swarm played the Mammoth in Colorado earlier this season and fell 15-9 after being outscored 5-2 in the fourth quarter of the game. Coach Sullivan thinks that the upcoming matchup in Colorado will be different because the team has grown from the adversity it has faced previously in 2013.
“We were in awe earlier this year in Colorado playing against John Grant Jr. in front of a big crowd and we let all of those distractions get to us,” Sullivan said. “We’ve matured to the point this season where I don’t think we’re going to let those little things get to us now. As long as we play our game like we have as of late, we’ll be in good shape.”
Another factor from that game that will be different is the presence of Callum Crawford. The Swarm captain was sidelined in the Week #5 loss at Colorado and has been spectacular for Minnesota this year. Crawford has scored eight or more points in five straight games, amassing three Offensive Player of the Week awards in the process. The three honors are a league-high for 2013 and the Ottawa, Ontario native is currently fifth in the league in scoring with 80 points (27g, 53a).
“He’s in a good place, likes his teammates, and more than anything they’re playing for each other,” Sullivan said. “Callum felt pressure to deliver last year and I don’t think he’s feeling that pressure this season, because we’re scoring by committee. He’s able to go out and play his game and know that if he doesn’t make his shot somebody else will.”
A lot of the relieved pressure that Sullivan mentioned comes from the additions of Shayne Jackson and Kiel Matisz. Jackson and Matisz are second and third among rookie scorers with 55 and 54 points on the season.
Another player that has been taking the scoring burden off of Crawford’s shoulders recently is Jordan MacIntosh. The Oakville, Ontario native recorded a career-high of nine points (5g, 4a) in last Saturday’s victory over the Bandits. He has also won the NLL Transition Player of the Week award a league-best four times this season. Despite his ability to score, coach Sullivan explains that MacIntosh’s capacity to do the little things is what makes him so valuable to Minnesota.
“He’s been on a tear lately scoring and that’s a great thing,” Sullivan said. “But his loose balls have just as great of an impact and what he’s done in the faceoff circle, going 72% against Buffalo, are things that we just need to have happen. If they keep happening on a consistent basis he’s just going to continue to help us win games.”
The Swarm can clinch a spot in the playoffs in the West Division with a win over the Mammoth and a Rush victory over the Knighthawks or a Knighthawks win against the Roughnecks. Minnesota can also clinch if Buffalo loses through the crossover rule, which allows the 5th place team in the West Division to take the place of the 4th place team in the East Division if the 5th place team has a better record.
Swarm fans in the Brainerd Lakes Area can catch the first ever road radio broadcast by SAM 101.5. The program can also be heard at the following link: https://network1sports.com/station/kfgi
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
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