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Swarm Seek First Win of Season at Vancouver

01/09/2014, 11:15am CST
By Brent Hollerud

Look to rebound from close defeat in season opener at Rochester

SAINT PAUL, Minn. - The Minnesota Swarm (0-1) will attempt to secure its first victory of the 2014 season on the road against the Vancouver Stealth (0-1) this Saturday at 9 p.m. CT.  Fans can view the game live by watching the action on Swarm Vision and mnswarm.com in conjunction with YouTube via The Lacrosse Network.

In their season opener on Dec. 28, the Swarm held the two-time defending Rochester Knighthawks to only eight goals, but struggled to score themselves, resulting in a tightly-fought 8-6 defeat at the Blue Cross Arena.  Minnesota used a strong third quarter to grab a late 6-5 lead, but the Knighthawks utilized the fourth-quarter heroics of Joel McCready to turn the tables and clinch the game for Rochester. 

“You have to get more than six goals in this league to even think about winning a game, or even winning a half,” coach Joe Sullivan said of his team’s opening night performance.  “I thought the game was there for us to take and we just didn’t rise to the occasion.”

Despite the loss, there were a handful of notable performances from the Swarm.  Rookie forwards Logan Schuss (No. 1 overall) and Scott Jones (No. 7 overall) each tallied their first NLL points, with Schuss netting a goal and an assist and Jones earning an assist.  Transition player Tyler Hass showed his skill in transition scoring a pair of markers, while F Callum Crawford had a three-point game (1g, 2a). Goaltender Tyler Carlson was solid between the pipes, turning aside 26 shots.

Swarm captain T Andrew Suitor saw his first game action after returning from an ACL injury sustained last February.  Suitor had a goal overturned by a crease violation and corralled nine loose balls.

Minnesota is entering this weekend’s action coming off of their first off-week of the season, a fact that Sullivan admits could prove to be beneficial to his team. 

“It really gives me a chance to prep my guys, not only on what’s coming up but what we just came out of,” Sullivan explains. “I’d rather us be able to take a challenge like Rochester early, be able to sit back and review it, relish and understand it a bit and then get ready for week three.”

Saturday might represent an opportunity for both squads to get their first win of 2014, but for the Stealth it also represents the beginning of a new chapter.  After falling in the 2013 Champion’s Cup Final, it was announced that the Stealth would relocate to a new home in Vancouver after a four-year tenure in Washington, one that saw them reach the finals three times, including a championship in 2010. 

While the Vancouver crest on their uniforms may be new, the Stealth (9-7 in 2013) are a team stocked with veterans and returners from their runner-up campaign a year ago.  Led by their 2013 leading scorers F Rhys Duch (45g, 51a) and F Lewis Ratcliff (31g, 36a), Vancouver boasts an offense improved by the offseason acquisition of the brotherly duo F Alex Gajic and T Ilija Gajic from Colorado.  Alex Gajic mustered an eight-point night (1g, 7a) during the Stealth’s 13-12 opening-night loss at Colorado on Jan. 4, while rookie Tyler Digby put up a hat trick and three assists in his NLL debut.

The Swarm won the season series 2-1 over the Stealth in 2013, thanks to a 12-5 rubber-match victory on March 16 at Xcel Energy Center.  Saturday is the only matchup between the Swarm and Stealth this season, due to Minnesota’s move to the East Division.  Sullivan believes that even with Vancouver’s offensive weapons, his current team has what it takes to slow them down.

“You give anybody a good opportunity in our league, and it’s probably going to end up in the net,” Sullivan said. “It’s going to be a challenge for us to shut them off but we have definitely shown that our defense is up to it.”

Missing from the Swarm’s this lineup this weekend will be rookie D Jason Noble, who will be serving a one-game suspension for a cross-check during the final preseason game against Calgary.  Noble will be eligible to return to action Jan. 18 at Philadelphia.

The Swarm will return to kick off their 10th season at The Hive when they face Philadelphia on Sunday, Jan. 19 at 2 p.m. CT for Native American Heritage Day. Swarm fans looking to lock up 2014 Season Tickets can take advantage of a Buy 2, Get 2 at 25% offer. By purchasing two season tickets at full price, fans can add an additional two tickets for 25% off. Call 1-888-667-9276 for purchasing information.

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