SAINT PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Swarm (1-5) hope to earn its first home victory of 2014 by handing the Edmonton Rush (6-0) its first defeat of the season as the two teams meet at Xcel Energy Center Saturday night at 6 p.m. CT. The game is part of the “Seeing Double-Header” hosted by the Swarm and the Minnesota RollerGirls. Fans wanting to take in two thrilling events with one ticket can lock up their seats at mnswarm.com/seeingdouble (using promo code “DOUBLE”), for as low as $24.
Despite posting a season-high mark in goals and leading at halftime, the Swarm fell to Calgary 15-13 last Saturday at The Hive. After taking an 8-6 lead seconds into the third quarter, Minnesota fell victim to an 8-1 run by the Roughnecks that gave them a commanding fourth quarter advantage. Swarm F Shayne Jackson made things interesting when his natural hat trick brought his team within a goal of tying the game late, but Calgary was able to survive and leave St. Paul with the victory.
“We battled hard, we won a lot of the small battles we wanted to, we got our goals up but we weren’t able to hold them off defensively.” Swarm coach Joe Sullivan explained. “It’s incumbent on us coaches to get both sides clicking at the same time.”
Even with the loss, the Swarm offense seems to be finding its rhythm, after a slow start to the season. Leading the resurgence are two of Minnesota’s most dangerous weapons in F Callum Crawford (10g, 13a) and T Jordan MacIntosh (8g, 14a). The duo have been red-hot as of late, scoring 11 and 10 points respectively over their last two contests. Jackson is hoping his five-point outburst (3g, 2a) last weekend can help him return to the form he showed in 2013, which earned him 63 points and a spot on the NLL All-Rookie team.
While Crawford, MacIntosh and Jackson may have stolen the spotlight, the Swarm really showed their offensive balance against the Roughnecks as 15 different players recorded a point. The first two goals of the night for Minnesota were milestones, as rookie T Cameron Flint notched his first career NLL goal and D Mike Hobbins earned his first goal in a Swarm uniform.
In order to snap their current three-game losing streak the Swarm attack will have to overcome the most dominant defensive unit in the league in the Rush– a team riding a six-game winning streak of their own. Edmonton leads the NLL in team goals against average with a stifling 7.77, and has not allowed their opponents to reach double-digit scoring since their 13-10 win at Colorado on opening night. They held Philadelphia to only six goals in their last game, an 8-6 win over the Wings last Saturday.
Bolstering the Rush is G Aaron Bold, who has appeared in all six of his team’s victories posting a league-leading 7.77 GAA and a .814 SV% which trails only Rochester’s Matt Vinc (.821 SV%).
On the front end, Edmonton is led by the reigning NLL Rookie of the Year F Mark Matthews, whose team-leading 29 points (12g, 17a) puts him on pace to eclipse the 69 he posted a year ago. Forward Curtis Knight (14g, 10a) adds depth to a Rush squad that has scored 11.67 goals-per-game.
“Edmonton is probably going to be our biggest challenge, but it’s one we are up for,” Sullivan said of his next opponent. “We circled this game a long time ago and we know what they are all about, they come at you hard and then they rely on their goaltender and their defense to keep teams at bay.”
Regardless of the stiff challenge at hand and their current situation, Sullivan has full confidence that his team, which is only two games out of third place in the East Division and a playoff spot, will be just fine moving forward.
“We have been 1-5 in the past and have played through that. There’s no magic to it, it’s all about just letting the guys believe. You know it’s just a matter of time, and once we do strike fire, look for it to be great.”
2014 marks the fourth-straight season the Swarm have partnered with the Minnesota RollerGirls for the Seeing Double event at The Hive. Saturday’s action will feature the RollerGirl All-Stars vs. Iowa’s Team United, and will begin at the conclusion of the Swarm-Rush game. 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.