SAINT PAUL, Minn. – The Swarm (8-9) will face the Rochester Knighthawks (9-8) at Blue Cross Arena this Saturday, May 4 at 3 p.m. CST in the East Division Finals. The game will be nationally broadcast by CBS Sports Network; click here for channel listings.
Minnesota advanced to the Division Finals for a second-straight season after collecting its second playoff win in franchise history last Sunday in Toronto, beating the Rock 20-11. Finishing the regular season at 10-6, Toronto had the best record in the NLL, but gave up a season high of 20 goals to the high-powered Swarm offense. Four of those goals came from T Jordan MacIntosh, who was named the NLL’s Transition Player of the Year earlier this week.
Now the focus shifts to a very talented Rochester team, which beat Philadelphia 10-8 last weekend to advance to the East Division Finals for their second-consecutive year. While Minnesota is the youngest team in the league, Rochester is one of the most seasoned and won the NLL’s Champion’s Cup last year.
“If there’s two teams you don’t want to play its Toronto and of course Rochester being the defending champions,” Swarm head coach Joe Sullivan said. “They’ve got a dynamic offense that’s very deep and they were tops in the league in goals against with Matt Vinc in front of the net and their defense playing so well in front of him. They’re not a team that anybody wants to go in and play, that’s for sure, and I’m sure they’re looking to repeat. It’s going to be a heck of a game.”
Going into Blue Cross Arena to play the defending champion Knighthawks, whose goalie Vinc recently received the NLL’s Goaltender of the Year award, is a daunting task. However, the Swarm is red hot having scored more goals than any other NLL team in 2013 (239) and already handily beat the regular season champion Rock last week.
“Nobody expected us to come out and win that game the way that we did,” Swarm forward Ryan Benesch said, who scored a game-high nine points at Toronto. “We listened to coach Sullivan and (Bobby) Keast’s gameplans and they gave us all the tools we needed to be able to play Toronto and we went out and executed.”
Last week the team’s gameplan centered around exposing Toronto’s goaltender, Nick Rose, who was the only NLL netminder to win 10 games this regular season. This weekend’s focus seems to be fairly similar.
“They definitely limit the space on the inside of the floor,” Benesch said. “They have a great defense and Vinc is probably the best goalie in the league…it’s going to be our goal to get them spread out and get our cutters through.”
The winner of the East Division Final between Minnesota and Rochester will advance to the Champion’s Cup against the West Division champion, either Washington or Calgary on the weekend of May 10-12. The Swarm and Knighthawks have never met before in the postseason.
The Swarm will host their Official Viewing Party at Burger Moe’s, located just steps from Xcel Energy Center. Surly Brewing Company will be offering exclusive prizes and Burger Moe’s will have happy hour specials for Swarm fans.