Photo Credit: Adam Borgstahl
SAINT PAUL, Minn. - The Minnesota Swarm (1-4) are hoping to build some momentum on their home turf this weekend, as they will host the Calgary Roughnecks (2-3) on Saturday night to open a two-game homestand at Xcel Energy Center. Fans can purchase lower level tickets for the 7 p.m. matchup at The Hive for as low as $22 by calling 1-888-667-9276.
The return to Saint Paul comes at a critical time for Minnesota, who need victories in order to improve their positioning within a competitive East Division, where they sit 1.5 games behind Philadelphia for the division’s third and final playoff spot.
The Swarm are coming off a tough 14-12 road defeat at the hands of Colorado Mammoth last weekend in a game where they had every chance to win. After each of the first three quarters ended in a tie, the Mammoth used a 3-0 run in the middle of the fourth to break open a 14-11 lead, a lead that Minnesota was unable to overcome.
“I think if we get a couple bounces here and there, that game is ours,” Swarm coach Joe Sullivan said. “We really fell a bit short on some of the prerequisites that we agree lead to success, and with that it’s just a learning curve. As frustrating as it was, it was definitely a step in the right direction.”
Despite the loss, the Swarm delivered their highest offensive output of the season, led by an explosive seven-point performance by F Callum Crawford (4g, 3a). Crawford was joined on the scoresheet by transition players Andrew Suitor and Jordan MacIntosh, who each tallied two goals and two assists. Rookie F Logan Schuss continued his steady production, netting five points (2g, 3a) giving the 2013 first-overall pick ten points in his last three games. While he is pleased that his big-name players are beginning to produce, Sullivan still expects more from his team.
“Unfortunately, as good as [Crawford, Suitor and MacIntosh] did, there are guys that are off the scorecard who need to be on there a little deeper,” Sullivan explained.
There were a few notable firsts for Minnesota in Denver– goaltender Zach Higgins made 37 saves in his first career NLL start, continuing his stretch of strong play, while newly acquired F Dane Stevens (1g) and rookie T Cameron Flint (5 loose balls) each made their debut in a Swarm uniform.
Saturday marks the second of three consecutive West Division opponents for the Swarm, as the Roughnecks come to The Hive on the heels of a bye week. Calgary sits three games back of the West-leading Edmonton Rush after alternating wins and losses so far this season. Their last game action came in a 14-13 overtime loss to the Mammoth on Jan. 25.
Offensively, the Roughnecks are led by a pair of veteran forwards in Shawn Evans and Dane Dobbie. Evans’ 28 points (6g, 28a) leads the team while Dobbie has racked up 16 goals so far in 2014, which is tied for fourth in the NLL. Heading Calgary’s back end are T Geoff Snider (62 loose balls) and G Mike Poulin (2-2, .725 SV%). The Roughnecks swept the season series 2-0 against Minnesota a year ago and hold an 8-5 edge all-time against the Swarm.
Regardless of their opponent however, the Swarm are relieved to be able to play in the familiar confines of Xcel Energy Center after playing four of their first five matchups away from The Hive. Prior to its opening day loss this year, Minnesota has put up an 11-5 record in Saint Paul over the last two campaigns. Sullivan spoke to his team’s need to make the most of their time at home.
“The schedule is one of those things you can’t control, but to get back home is obviously what we need to do, and what we want to do. We have had great success the last three years at [Xcel Energy Center] and I can’t see why that would be any different now,” Sullivan said. “Look for us to bounce back from our home opener and really establish ourselves this weekend.”
Saturday is also Heroes Night at The Hive presented by USAA, as the Swarm honor Minnesota’s service men and women by offering complementary admission to all military families. 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.