Photo Credit: Scott Pierson
SAINT PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Swarm (3-9) look to earn their second consecutive victory this Saturday when they visit the Calgary Roughnecks (7-5) in an inter-divisional showdown at Scotiabank Saddledome. Fans can catch the 8:00 p.m. CT faceoff with Swarm Vision on MNSwarm.com, via YouTube and The Lacrosse Network.
Minnesota finds itself hitting the road on a winning note after earning a thrilling 10-9 overtime victory over the Buffalo Bandits last Sunday at Xcel Energy Center. In an incredibly close game where each quarter ended with the score tied, F Callum Crawford’s goal over seven minutes into the extra frame turned the scale in favor of the resilient Swarm, who had fought their way back from four separate deficits throughout the game.
“The guys did a lot of things on their own to get themselves prepared, and they just decided to execute,” Swarm coach Joe Sullivan said. “I think they have had enough of just falling short and we pushed the first place team to the ringer and felt that we got the better of them. That ball could have bounced either way but when you work hard good things happen.”
Crawford’s overtime heroics put a bow on a four-point (2g, 2a) outing, which included his league-leading fourth shorthanded goal of the season. The assistant captain, who brought himself within five points of 500 career points, also jumped Sean Pollock to take second place on the Swarm all-time goals list. Sitting at 133 goals in a Minnesota uniform, Crawford needs only nine more tallies to pass Ryan Benesch for the franchise lead.
Forwards Logan Schuss and Shayne Jackson also added two goals and two assists to pace the Swarm offense, which poured 59 shots on Bandits goaltender Anthony Cosmo. Defenseman Greg Downing chipped in with a season-high three points (1g, 2a).
Even with the offensive success, suffocating defense was the key on Sunday as the Swarm and Bandits combined to play the first scoreless first quarter in the 28-year history of the NLL, and only the third scoreless quarter on record. Minnesota’s back end thrived on a stellar 34-save performance by G Tyler Carlson, who picked up his first win of the season, and a 31-12 edge in forced turnovers.
Sullivan made sure it was clear that his team’s emotional victory, which brought them back to within two games of a playoff spot, means nothing if they don’t follow it up with another strong performance moving this weekend.
“Falling short again would be nothing but a setback now,” Sullivan explained. “We have got to try and make some noise, and the only thing we can do is control our own destiny and to do that we have to win in Calgary. For us it’s going to be a real challenge.”
The Roughnecks sit in second place in the West Division and come into Week 14 on the heels of a 13-8 victory over the Vancouver Stealth on March 21. Calgary won their first matchup with the Swarm this season 15-13 back on Feb. 8 at The Hive, when they denied a fourth-quarter comeback attempt by Minnesota. After starting the season with a 2-3 record, the Roughnecks have rebounded by compiling a 5-2 record in their last seven games, a stretch that started against the Swarm.
Calgary thrives on their prolific offense, a unit that sits atop the NLL in scoring producing 12.38 goals per game. Fronting the charge are forwards Shawn Evans (12g, 58a), league-leading goal scorer Dane Dobbie (35g, 25a) and Curtis Dickson (29g, 20a), who notched five goals and an assist against Minnesota in early February. One of the primary reasons the Roughneck attack has been so effective is the work of T Geoff Snider, whose NLL-best 145 loose balls and 213 faceoff wins help keep the ball in Calgary’s possession.
Even though the stakes are as high as they have ever been for Minnesota, a team fighting for their playoff lives, recent events have Sullivan believing that the Swarm squad that will take the floor this weekend will be much different than the one that fell to the Roughnecks their first go-around.
“We’re getting better, I just feel different about going into every weekend now for the last couple of weeks–even though we haven’t won each of those games–there’s a different feel in the room and it’s a feel of confidence and accomplishment,” Sullivan said. “I wouldn’t want to have play the Minnesota Swarm right now, because they a real hungry young team with something to prove.”
A Minnesota Swarm game is something that has to be experienced live to be fully understood. Fans can get that experience in The Hive for as low as $22 for a lower-level seat. 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