Photo Credit: Scott Pierson
SAINT PAUL, Minn. - The Minnesota Swarm (1-3) will be hungry for a victory when they return to action this Saturday in a road matchup against the Colorado Mammoth (2-5) at the Pepsi Center in Denver. Fans can catch the game live by watching all of the action on Swarm Vision and MNSwarm.com, in conjunction with YouTube via The Lacrosse Network. The game can also be seen on the Altitude channel for Dish Network and DirecTV subscribers. The game is scheduled for an 8 p.m. CT start.
The Swarm hope their recent bye week will help them recover from what was a disappointing end to their last weekend of play, as a 15-8 defeat on at the hands of the Philadelphia Wings on Jan. 19 spoiled Minnesota’s home opener, and ended the home-and-home series with the Wings in a split. The Swarm won the first game of the series the night before in an 11-10 thriller at the Wells Fargo Center.
Coach Joe Sullivan said the extra time off gives him a chance to plan ahead: “While I would have liked to get right back on the horse, it gives me more time to put together a better package for the guys in their preparation. The proof will be in the pudding, seeing how the team responds come Saturday.”
In their last outing, the Swarm fell victim to untimely penalties, leading to five power play goals for Philadelphia, which turned the tide greatly in favor of the Wings. Regardless of the outcome, a raucous crowd of 8,213 came to the Xcel Energy Center to kick off the 10th season of Swarm Lacrosse.
The two games against the Wings marked the first two NLL appearances for Swarm G Zach Higgins, who came in to relieve G Tyler Carlson in both contests. Higgins played solid, posting a .795 save percentage in nearly 94 minutes of play, picking up the victory on Saturday, where he turned aside 31 shots.
Offensively, Minnesota was paced by eight point weekends by both T Jordan MacIntosh (3g, 5a) and F Callum Crawford (3g, 5a). The two share the team lead in points (12) while T Kiel Matisz remains the team leader in goals (6) after netting three against Philadelphia two weekends ago. Rookie F Logan Schuss notched a pair of goals in each of the games against the Wings, and sits one goal behind Matisz with five on the season.
Putting the ball in the net has been an area where the Swarm have had unusual difficulties so far in 2014, as they sit at the bottom of the league in goals scored per game. In an effort to shake things up, Minnesota announced on Jan. 23 the acquisition of F Dane Stevens from the Edmonton Rush in exchange for the fourth selection in the 2014 NLL Entry Draft.
This weekend’s game against the Mammoth will feature two teams who are desperate for wins in order to climb up the standings in their respective divisions. The Mammoth currently sit in the basement of the West, but are riding the momentum of an 14-13 overtime victory in Calgary last weekend, which snapped a four-game losing streak.
Colorado’s roster features a handful of the NLL’s best offensive weapons, including the current league leader and runner-up in point production. Forward Adam Jones (23g, 14a) paces the NLL in both points (37) and goals, while F John Grant Jr. (14g, 18a) follows close behind with 32 points. Jones scored a career-high seven goals in the victory over the Roughnecks. Backing up the Mammoth offensive attack is D Bob Snider, whose 77 loose balls is also tops in the league.
While Colorado’s offense has proven itself to be among the league’s most productive, the Mammoth have shown some susceptibility on the back end, as they currently sit atop the NLL in team goals-against-average (13.85). 2013 third-overall draft pick Dillon Ward and Tye Belanger have split duties between the Colorado pipes, and the Swarm will hope to have more success against them than they have in past weekends.
“This should be a real good matchup; a measuring stick for both teams,” Sullivan explained. “I would expect their defense to step it up a notch and its incumbent on me to make sure our offense steps it up a notch.”
Colorado holds a 9-7 lead in the all-time series between the two teams, but the Swarm put up 17 goals in a 17-12 victory in their last trip to Denver on April 20, 2013.
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. Minnesota returns to The Hive on Saturday, Feb. 8 for a 7 p.m. CT matchup against the Calgary Roughnecks. Lower-level seats start as low as $22.