Photo credit: Dan Brodie
VANCOUVER, British Columbia - The National Lacrosse League’s (NLL) Minnesota Swarm’s defense came through for them once again, but they still could not avoid an 8-5 defeat at the hands of the Vancouver Stealth Saturday night at the Langley Events Center.
For the second straight game the Swarm held a commanding lead in shots on goal and scoring opportunities, and for the second straight game they ran into a hot goaltender on the other end of the floor. Vancouver’s Tyler Richards turned away 45 shots on his way to posting a stellar .900 save percentage on the night. Minnesota outshot the Stealth 50-33 but were stymied time and time again by Richards and the Vancouver defense.
Trailing 6-4 heading into the fourth quarter, the Swarm outshot Vancouver by a 20-4 margin but did not break through until the 12:38 mark when T Kiel Matisz scored his third of the year picking up his own rebound on a great individual effort. Matisz was one of the few bright spots among the Swarm offense, netting three points (2g, 1a) including Minnesota’s first goal of the game.
The offensive stalemate spoiled another terrific effort by the Minnesota defense, who used a 70-51 edge on loose balls and 25 saves from goaltender Tyler Carlson to keep Vancouver within reach. Despite the disappointing loss, Minnesota coach Joe Sullivan made sure to give credit where credit was due.
“We limited their opportunities, we kept their shot selections to undesirable places that we thought played to our strengths,” Sullivan explained. “Carlson played strong, overall defensively I was real happy with our play.”
The Stealth utilized four-second half tallies to build upon a 4-3 lead at the half in what was an extremely tight game, including timely goals from rookie forwards Cody Bremner, who beat Carlson seconds after Minnesota killed off a Stealth power play late in the third quarter, and Tyler Digby, who scored his fourth goal of the season to put Vancouver up 7-4 2:09 into the final frame. Both Bremner and Digby managed an assist as well on the night.
After Vancouver F Rhys Duch spotted his team a 2-0 lead with back-to-back goals midway through the first, the two teams traded markers throughout the rest of the first half. Swarm rookie F Scott Jones buried his first career NLL goal to open the second quarter scoring, beating Richards with a cannon from the slot.
Fellow greenhorn forward Logan Schuss also factored in the scoresheet in the second, tallying an assist on F Josh Gillam’s goal and then dropping the gloves in a spirited fight with Vancouver’s Justin Salt in the waning stages of the first half, after a scrum ensued in front of the Vancouver net.
Penalties were plentiful on Saturday, with 41 combined penalty minutes between the two squads. Vancouver went 1-for-4 with the man advantage and Minnesota went 1-for-6, failing to convert on a pair of key fourth quarter power plays and giving up a shorthanded goal to Vancouver’s Jeff Molesky in the opening frame.
Minnesota captain T Andrew Suitor had a strong game across floor, tallying six shots and eight loose balls, but only managed an assist.
The Swarm look to regroup next weekend when they begin a home-and-home series with the Philadelphia Wings on Saturday, followed by their 2014 home-opener on Sunday. According to Sullivan, his team’s approach is simple looking toward Philadelphia.
“The mindset is two wins. We can’t think of anything other than that. In order to get back to where we said we wanted to be we need two wins.”
Sunday’s game at The Hive is also 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.