SAINT PAUL, Minn. – The National Lacrosse League today announced the Player of the Month and Rookie of the Month award winners for the month of April. Two Minnesota Swarm players, forward Callum Crawford (Player of the Month) and rookie transition player Kiel Matisz (Rookie of the Month), won awards in their respective categories after helping the Swarm clinch their fourth consecutive playoff berth. Minnesota had never won both awards in the same month prior to Thursday.
Player of the Month
Callum Crawford, (4 GP, 11G, 22A, 33 PTS, 20 LB): Crawford recorded a league-high 33 points (11G, 22A) in April, and tied a personal-best 10 points (2G, 8A) on April 6 vs. Buffalo.
Crawford, 27, averaged over eight points per game this month and finished the season third in the NLL with 63 assists and fourth with 95 points (32G, 63A) in 14 games played. Crawford also posted the league’s fourth-best shooting percentage (.240). In his fourth season with the Swarm in 2013, the right-handed forward became the Swarm’s all-time leader in points (338) and assists (228) as well as became the fourth player in team history to score over 100 goals in a Swarm uniform. The native of Ottawa, Ontario won a league-high three Offensive Player of the Week awards in 2013 and collected his first ever Player of the Month award on Thursday.
“Anytime an offensive player can average over eight points per game consistently across four or five games, it says something pretty extraordinary about that player,” Swarm associate general manager and head coach Joe Sullivan said. “He’s not only been extraordinary on the floor, but also with his leadership and helping develop young guys like Kiel Matisz, and last year it was (Jay) Card, (Corbyn) Tao and (Jordan) MacIntosh. He’s taken a lot of younger players under his wing and he truly leads by example and shows them what it’s all about to be a part of a great organization.”
Rookie of the Month
Kiel Matisz, (4 GP, 9G, 9A, 18 PTS, 15 LB): Matisz notched 18 points (9G, 9A), and posted three five-point efforts in the month of April, which included a career-high four goals on April 7 in Philadelphia.
The Stoney Creek, Ontario native finished the year ranked second among NLL rookies in goals (29), assists (33) and loose balls (70), third in rookie scoring with 62 points, and fifth in the NLL in shooting percentage (.230). The Swarm’s No. 3 overall selection in the 2012 NLL Entry Draft also set Swarm rookie records for most points and goals in a single season. With his first career monthly rookie award, Matisz joined Edmonton Rush forward Mark Matthews as the only two players to earn the distinction in 2013. Matisz, 23, won a league-high four Rookie of the Week awards this year.
“Kiel’s play as of late stems from confidence,” Sullivan said. “He’s trying things now that he wasn’t trying at the beginning of the year. Now he realizes he can do that, and by him being that much better, it takes a lot of pressure off the other offensive players. If teams want to shut down other guys, good luck shutting down Kiel Matisz because he has confidence, experience and a will to win.”
The Swarm’s (7-9) East Division Semifinal contest against the Toronto Rock (10-6) from Air Canada Centre will be broadcast live locally on FOX Sports North PLUS this Sunday at 2 p.m. CST.
This weekend’s matchup between No. 4 seed Minnesota and No. 1 seed Toronto marks the first time that the two will have met in the playoffs. Due to the NLL’s crossover rule, the Swarm will start the postseason in the East Division this year. The crossover rule allows the fifth place West Division team to take the place of the fourth place team from the East Division if the fifth place team has a better record. Sunday’s matchup can also be seen on TSN2 in Canada and will be streamed live on YouTube.com/TLN in the U.S. and outside Canada.