Photo Credit: Scott Pierson
SAINT PAUL, Minn.- The Minnesota Swarm (2-9) came out on the losing end of an overtime thriller on Sunday night, as they fell to the Toronto Rock (5-7) 9-8 at Xcel Energy Center thanks to F Colin Doyle’s game-winning goal 1:33 into the extra session.
The Swarm were able to fight their way back from a 8-4 deficit in the fourth quarter, but their chances of finalizing the comeback vanished when Doyle found the back of the net, silencing an electrified crowd at The Hive and handing Minnesota their fourth straight home defeat. Toronto F Josh Sanderson delivered a beautiful feed from the high slot to the left post, where he found Doyle all alone, who beat Swarm G Tyler Carlson over the shoulder. The overtime goal capped off a hat trick for Doyle, who led all players with six points (3g, 3a).
“This game and all of our games it seems like we dig ourselves in a heck of a hole to get out of, and we manage to get out of it and then its always kind of all for nothing,” Swarm coach Joe Sullivan said. “It’s the small things that make the big difference, they turned around [in overtime] and finished it off.”
Minnesota forced overtime thanks to a dominant fourth quarter performance where they were able to outscore the Rock 4-0 and outshoot them 17-8, finally solving Toronto G Nick Rose who seemed unbeatable for three quarters. Rose turned aside a season-high 50 shots, and shut out the Swarm in both the first and third quarters en route to picking up his fifth win of the year.
Forward Callum Crawford got the Minnesota rally started when he scored 3:38 into the fourth quarter, ending a 22-minute scoring drought. The Swarm chipped away further when T Tyler Hass and F Scott Jones both scored in a similar fashion, beating Rose between the legs to whittle the Rock lead to 8-7. Less than 30 seconds after Jones’ tally, T Kiel Matisz brought the home crowd to pandemonium when he found himself all alone in the slot, finding the back of the net to tie the game with 5:30 remaining in regulation.
Apart from a second-quarter outburst, the Swarm offense had no answer for Rose through the first 45 minutes of play. The Rock built a 5-0 lead in the opening quarter, capitalizing on Minnesota’s lack of sustained pressure and a pair of costly penalties. After infractions against T Cam Flint and D Brock Sorensen gave Toronto a 5-on-3 power play, a pair of quick goals by F Kasey Beirnes and Doyle extended a three-goal lead to a five.
“There’s lot of character in our dressing room, we are a young team, we have the chemistry there... but it’s been a theme that we haven’t been starting really good,” said Matisz of his team’s tendency to fall behind early.
Rookie F Logan Schuss finally got the Swarm on the board 6:24 into the second when he scored in jaw-dropping fashion. After collecting a feed from Crawford, Schuss dove headfirst across the goalmouth, releasing a shot behind his back, which was able to allude Rose. Toronto answered back with Doyle’s second goal of the game, but Minnesota responded with three goals in 2:22 to help them remain in contention, going into halftime trailing 7-4.
Schuss led the Swarm with four points (1g, 3a) on the night, while Crawford and Jones each chipped in with a goal and two assists. Matisz added a pair of goals, and appeared to have a third late in the third quarter when a behind-the-net dunk shot was initially ruled a goal. However a challenge from the Toronto bench and a lengthy video review overturned the call, claiming the ball didn’t actually enter the net.
Despite the loss, Minnesota’s defense played solid, led by the play of Carlson, who turned aside 32 shots after entering the game in relief of Zach Higgins in the first quarter. Transition player Jordan MacIntosh supplemented his two assists with a great performance on the other side of the floor, picking up 13 loose balls and earning four forced turnovers, while winning 14 of his 21 draws (66.7%). Minnesota held a 78-60 edge in loose balls and outshot the Rock 58-44.
Forward Garrett Billings, the leading scorer in the NLL, added five points (3g, 2a) while F Rob Hellyer put up five assists for the Rock.
The Swarm return to The Hive next Sunday when they take on Buffalo for the second of two meetings with the East Division-leading Bandits. Buffalo defeated Minnesota 12-9 on March 8 at First Niagara Center. Seats are still available for the 1 p.m. CT game, and fans can purchase theirs for as little as $22. Fans looking to lock up pro-rated season packages can still take advantage of a special Buy 2, Get 2 25%-Off promotion for the remainder of the 2014 Season. Visit mnswarm.com or call 888-667-9276 for more information.