#20 T Andrew Suitor
The mark of a great player and a true leader is the ability to contribute in many different ways to their team’s efforts. Many can say they play a fast-paced skill game or a hard-nosed physical game but few can say that they can do both at a high level. Swarm transition player and captain Andrew Suitor is the epitome of the latter, and has made a name for himself in the NLL as someone who is not afraid to chip in in all facets of the game.
On any given night Suitor can be found all over the floor, grinding it out in the defensive end one second and then factoring in the offense the next. The fourth-year pro from Orangeville, Ontario is also one of the toughest customers in the league, leading the NLL with 48 penalty minutes through 10 games, and is never shy of answering the bell to try and spark his team with his fists.
MNSwarm.com had a chance to catch up with “Suits” and got his take on the physical role he plays, his duties as captain and what it will take for his team to stage a second-half rally in the East Division standings.
Hollerud: We started the year talking about the status of your knee and your recovery from last year’s injury. Now that we’re over halfway home in 2014 give us an update on how the knee is holding up.
Suitor: It’s good, everything is going to plan. Summit Orthopedics and especially [Swarm Athletic Trainer] Dan Sonday is doing a great job making sure that the knee is ready week in and week out. I don’t think it’s 100% but it’s definitely getting there, and I’m getting more comfortable each week.
Hollerud: From your skill to physicality, from offense to defense, it’s hard to find a player who is as involved in all parts of the floor as you are. Can you try to sum up what your role is on the floor or do you see yourself as more of a jack-of-all-trades so to speak?
Suitor: I see myself as a solid defender who is expected to chip in a point and 10 loose balls a night. I play definitely more of a defensive role but if the opportunity does arise I need to be able to either capitalize on my shot or make the right pass so the ball does end up in the net.
Hollerud: On several different occasions this year you have been able to score goals in opportune times, such as the end of the game at Philadelphia a couple of weeks ago. Is this a result of you having a flair for the dramatic or is it a matter of putting yourself in the right areas at the right time?
Suitor: I think it’s just kind of luck, the only reason those opportunities arise are because of my teammates and my coaches. If I do chip in with a goal then great, but I’ve said before I’d rather make a big stop in the defensive end than score a game-winning goal. I’d rather leave the hands of Logan Schuss, Callum Crawford, Josh Gillam and guys like that up there to put the ball in the net and they can get all the glory, while all the guys on the back door know that we did our job too.
Hollerud: You have been at the center of many a scrum this season, racking up four fighting majors so far along with leading the league in penalty minutes. Has being willing to drop the mitts always been a part of your game or was it something you picked up when you made it to the NLL?
Suitor: It’s always been a part of my game. I had the opportunity to play under a great coach in Matt Sawyer in Orangeville [Junior A]; he was never one to ask me to fight, but if stuff started going that way I realized that was my job and I’ve kind of grown into it.
There are not as many fights this year obviously with the smaller rosters but when they do happen they happen for a reason. They are part of the game. Anyone who says they fight for themselves are not good team guys, I do it to hopefully pick the boys up or stick up for somebody, so if it comes up it’s something you have to handle.
Hollerud: Your bout with Steve Priolo last weekend in Buffalo had a rather bizarre ending to it, what made you guys mutually decide that the fight was over and basically hug it out right after going at it?
Suitor: Personally I was just gassed, it’s a long game and later in the game you start to get a little weaker and I just had nothing left. I said to him: “If you’re good then I’m good,” and he said the same thing. I have a lot of respect for Steve Priolo, he’s a great defender and in my opinion could be Defender of the Year this year. It was something that happened and once it was over it was over, and we moved forward from there.
Hollerud: Obviously one of the biggest roles you have with the team is marked with the C on your sweater. What responsibilities do you put on yourself as captain to keep this team focused despite the struggles you guys have endured so far this season?
Suitor: I think just keeping the team together, no one in our dressing room has given up on each other, everyone still trusts our systems and we still hold each other accountable to be in the gym all week and to be ready to go come the first faceoff the next game. More than anything you got to be positive, there haven’t been too many positives yet so we better start finding them in a hurry.
Hollerud: The beautiful thing about the schedule and your situation is that you have been playing stronger each week, and still have two games left apiece with Toronto, Buffalo and Rochester. How are you guys preparing for the last leg of the season knowing that the chance is still there to climb into the East playoff picture?
Suitor: We’re just focusing on our young legs; I think we are the youngest team in the league this year, so we are hoping that with that we have a lot left, where teams might start to slow down we’ll amp it up. Hopefully we can come out and catch some teams off-guard and not slow down.
Like you said we have 2 games with each of those teams, and we need more than just splits, we need to win them. It’s as simple as that, and if we want to play in the playoffs we need to start beating the teams in the playoffs.
Hollerud: Another plus is out of your last eight games, six of them are at home. How important is it being able to play these big games in front of your own crowd, and how do you get out of your recent funk at The Hive in 2014?
Suitor: It’s huge to be able to play at home. I said before that it is just unacceptable to lose at home; we pride ourselves on winning at The Hive, and if we had our choice we would have 18 games there because we owe it to our fans and we love playing in front of them. Right now we are letting them down so we keep that in the back of our mind for added motivation to come out and get a much-deserved “W".
Hollerud: How would you best convince the naysayers out there that the Minnesota Swarm have what it take to make a strong push for the postseason?
Suitor: I’d tell them that they said the same thing the last two years– that we weren’t supposed to make the playoffs– but then we ended up making the playoffs and winning the first round each year. So I’d say keep doubting us and we can continue to show you what we are made of.