SAINT PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Swarm could not contain the Philadelphia Wings during a 15-8 defeat in their 2014 home opener at Xcel Energy Center on Sunday afternoon in front of an enthusiastic crowd of 8,213.
Five power play goals, including three scored on a second-quarter major penalty crippled the Swarm’s chances at taking two in a row against a Wings team they defeated a day ago in Philadelphia. With Minnesota D Jeff Gilbert already in the box midway through the second quarter, T Tyler Hass took an illegal cross checking major, which the Wings used to turn a 5-3 lead into an 8-3 advantage. Forwards Pat Saunders and Jordan Hall each scored in a 46 second span to chase Swarm starting goaltender Tyler Carlson for the second consecutive game. The Wings finished the game 5-for-8 with the extra man.
“Anytime you get a five-minute penalty against you, you are hoping to hold them to one, and we didn’t do that,” Swarm assistant coach Bobby Keast said. “I’m not going to blame our goaltending and defensively I thought they played well. The Wings played better than us tonight.”
Minnesota could never get a rally started thanks to timely goals by the Philadelphia attack and a spirited performance from Wings netminder Evan Kirk. The two-year Swarm member shone in his former habitat, turning aside 35 of 43 shots, including several big stops during a third-quarter Minnesota power play, when the Swarm were starting to build some momentum down 9-5.
Down 8-4 at halftime, Minnesota played the Wings tight in a third-quarter that saw each team net a pair. But Philadelphia was able to step on the gas once more in the final frame, scoring four goals in just under five minutes to put the game out of reach.
Offensively, the Swarm was led by rookie F Logan Schuss and F Callum Crawford, each netting two goals and an assist. Transition player Jordan MacIntosh added a goal and two assists and F Shayne Jackson notched three assists in a losing effort.
Higgins tried to once again spark his team after starting the game on the bench but takes the loss after giving up eight goals on 35 shots. However, the young goaltender from Courtice, Ontario made his fair share of highlight-reel stops, his best of which came when his team was on the penalty kill.
The contest was a tight, physical affair in the early stages, thanks in large part to the efforts of Swarm captain T Andrew Suitor. Suitor answered Philadelphia F Garrett Thul’s opening goal in the first quarter with a marker of his own, a gritty net-mouth finish that tied the game at one and brought the crowd at The Hive to their feet. Suitor’s role as a spark plug continued in the second, when added another goal before dropping the gloves with Philadelphia T Brodie Merrill.
The Wings were led by another strong offensive effort from F Jordan Hall, who put up eight points (4g, 4a) to give him an impressive 14 points in the two-game set. Forward Ryan Ward had seven points (1g, 7a), as did F Kyle Buchanan (2g, 5a).
Crawford made it perfectly clear after the game that what happened today was unacceptable to him and his teammates.
“That was not Minnesota Swarm lacrosse. If you look at the way we’ve played over the past few years in this building we were a force to be reckoned with, and today we were taken advantage of,” the assistant captain said. “We have got to check ourselves, figure out our roles on this team, and find ways to contribute positively and win; not just improving ourselves but improving this team.”
Minnesota has a little time to perform this self-examination, as they are off next weekend. The Swarm return to action on Feb. 1 when they travel to Denver to take on the Colorado Mammoth for an 8 p.m. matchup from the Pepsi Center.
Swarm fans still 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.