Photo Credit: Graig Abel
TORONTO – The Minnesota Swarm (1-7) outscored the Toronto Rock (4-4) 8-1 in the fourth quarter during a spirited comeback but finished on the losing end, falling 14-12 Saturday evening at Air Canada Centre in front of 9,207 fans.
With his team trailing 13-4 at the start of the fourth quarter, Coach Sullivan huddled all of his players around him on the bench and challenged the Swarm to finish the game on a strong note. Minnesota did just that, and scored the game’s next seven goals to pull within two at 13-11 after F Kiel Matisz (2G) scored five-hole on a six-on-five opportunity with 1:05 remaining.
“Quite honestly I told them to play with some pride,” Sullivan said. “They responded back in the fourth quarter by taking some pride in their game, creating some havoc, and finding the openings.”
Transition player Jordan MacIntosh (5G) tallied three of the Swarm’s eight fourth quarter goals, and totaled a game-high five goals on the night, which tied a career-high. All three of MacIntosh’s goals in the fourth were scored on crafty behind the net attempts on Rock G Nick Rose.
“Jordan put the team on his back,” Sullivan said. “From winning faceoffs, to getting behind the net with the dunks he got, that’s what great players do.”
“It was desperation,” said MacIntosh in regards to his play in the fourth. “At the end of the day though, it wasn’t enough.”
Trailing 13-6 with 3:28 remaining the fourth quarter, MacIntosh scored two goals in an 11-second span to pull the Swarm within five at 13-8. Transition player Brock Sorensen (2G) then followed MacIntosh’s highlight-reel goals with one of his own, a behind-the-back score in transition to keep the momentum in the Swarm’s favor. After two quick Rock penalties, Matisz found the back of the net on a power play chance, and then converted his second goal of the night with just over a minute left. Trailing 13-11, Minnesota had the opportunity to bring the game within one, but Rock T Jesse Gamble intercepted a pass, and took the ball the other way for an empty netter to seal the deal with 29.7 seconds remaining.
“Some pride came out of our guys, and that’s why we finished the way we did,” MacIntosh said.
Rookie forward Logan Schuss tallied career-highs in points (6) and assists (5), and also notched a goal in the loss. Minnesota only trailed by one with less than two minutes remaining in the first half until Rock captain Colin Doyle (2G, 2A) scored two goals to give Toronto a 7-4 lead. Doyle’s buzzer-beater at the end of the first half marked his 500th career NLL goal. Rock F Josh Sanderson led the Toronto with six points on the night (3G, 3A) and Rose picked up the win after making 46 saves.
Swarm goalie Tyler Carlson collected the loss after relieving teammate Zach Higgins in the third quarter. Carlson made 11 saves on 15 shots in 28 minutes, while Higgins notched 22 saves on 31 shots in 32 minutes.
Saturday was a rematch of last year’s East Division Semifinal (Minnesota won 20-11 in Toronto) and featured 50 penalty minutes in the first quarter, as several fisticuffs took place. Swarm captain Andrew Suitor was handed a game misconduct penalty after a tussle with Rock D Billy Hostrawser, and was ejected from the game. In total, the two teams combined for 100 penalty minutes on the night.
Minnesota returns to action tomorrow afternoon at Wells Fargo Center to finish the season series with the Philadelphia Wings (3-6) at 3 p.m. CT. Each team won on the road during a home-and-home doubleheader on Jan. 18-19, with Minnesota taking an 11-10 victory in Philadelphia in the opener. The Wings responded by earning a 15-8 victory the next day in the Swarm’s home opener.
“We have to wake up tomorrow ready to win,” MacIntosh said.