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Toyota Professor: Step in the right direction

02/13/2014, 10:45am CST
By Toyota Professor

Minnesota will look to knock off undefeated Edmonton (6-0) Saturday at The Hive

Believe it or not, last Saturday’s heartbreaking 15-13 loss to the Calgary Roughnecks was an invaluable learning experience for the Swarm.  “We found our identity,” says Swarm Assistant Coach Aime Caines.  “We didn’t quit when we were down 14-9 with just under 11 minutes left to play and we made it a last possession game.  That’s a very good thing.  We’ve got to run with that… we need something to build off of and I honestly think we have that now even though we fell short in the end.”

After Saturday’s game, Caines and the coaching staff had many important individual one-on-one conversations with the guys.  “We all put so much into every game and it’s natural to second guess yourself,” admits Caines.  “But everyone is all in.  Shayne Jackson came up to me and actually apologized for it taking so long for him to break out.  But he did break out in a big way and put the whole team on his shoulders scoring a natural hat trick.  When a guy like that takes ownership that’s what leadership is all about and that’s when great things happen.”

The season is 1/3 complete and no one on the Swarm would have ever thought the team would be 1-5 at this juncture.  But even though they’re looking up at the rest of the East Division, the playoffs are still well within reach.  “Toronto and Philly both only have three wins.  And three teams in the East make the playoffs so the important thing is to control what we can control.  That’s our effort.  We are in control of that… the guys in the room know that and everyone is all in.”

And it’s not coming a moment too soon. Coming to The Hive Saturday night is the only undefeated team in the National Lacrosse League.  The Edmonton Rush comes to town sporting a 6-0 record and the league’s lowest goals against average… a paltry 7.5 GAA.  “They have the best defense in the league,” admits Caines.  “They’ve got one of the top goalies in Aaron Bold behind them and they don’t give you many second chances.  But I’ll tell you this… they’re a solid team on paper.  But we play on turf so we’ll see.”

It’s hard not to draw parallels between this Saturday’s game and another landmark on paper mismatch… especially during the Winter Olympics.  Sure it’s a stretch to call Saturday’s night’s game analogous to the 1980 US Olympic Hockey Team vs. the USSR, but that game made one thing perfectly clear… anything can happen in sports and that’s why they play the games.  “We believe we can win Saturday.  We need a spark to get us started on a winning streak.  To a man in the locker room… every player and every coach believes we can win Saturday and we can make the playoffs.  We need to find a way to win and I firmly believe we will Saturday.”

It won’t take a miracle… no, far from it.  But it’ll be a significant turning point in a difficult season for sure.

Class dismissed

The Toyota Professor

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