SAINT PAUL, Minn. – Logan Schuss already has two National Lacrosse League (NLL) Rookie of the Month titles to his name, and on Saturday night the Minnesota Swarm forward added another honor to his collection as the Swarm (4-12) hung on for a thrilling 10-9 victory over the Buffalo Bandits (8-7) in front of 7,088 at Xcel Energy Center during the team’s fourth-annual “Hive Cares Night”.
With his go-ahead goal at the 10:23 mark of the fourth quarter and his 30th of the year, Schuss (4g, 2a) set a Swarm single-season record for goals from a rookie. Just 50 seconds after Buffalo F Mark Steenhuis tied the game at nine with a power play goal, Schuss found his way to the top of the crease, where he was able to quickly convert a pass from F Shayne Jackson into the eventual game-winner. The goal broke the previous mark of 29 goals by a first-year player, set in 2013 by T Kiel Matisz.
“He has been incredible,” said Swarm coach Joe Sullivan. “Mr. [Swarm Owner and Governor John] Arlotta brought him in first overall in the draft, and he has proven to be just that... For us to have a young guy like that, and to have him keep getting better, it looks bright for our future.”
While Minnesota was unable to maintain a late lead last weekend against Rochester, goaltender Tyler Carlson made sure his team wasn’t leaving empty handed again. Carlson made 41 saves to earn his second win of the season, none bigger than a jaw-dropping stop in the final minute of the game. After a defensive zone turnover with less than 20 seconds in the game gave Buffalo a 2-on-0 rush, Carlson stoned D Steve Priolo to preserve the win.
Schuss was not the only Swarm forward to etch his name in the franchise history book, as F Callum Crawford (1g, 2a) tied the all-time record for goals scored when he buried his 141st in a Minnesota uniform in the second quarter, a record previously held by current Bandit Ryan Benesch. “He’s been here a while and has worked hard for every one of those goals,” added Sullivan. “He has been the leader for us on the inside of the floor for as long as I have been here.”
In addition to Crawford and Schuss, the Swarm got timely offense from Jackson (1g, 2a), T Jordan MacIntosh (1g, 3a) and F Josh Gillam (1g, 1a) en route to winning their second-straight game against the Bandits at The Hive, which clinched the season series over their East Division rivals.
The Swarm were able to come out of each quarter with the lead, a feat that started when Schuss and MacIntosh combined for two quick goals late in the first quarter to give Minnesota a 3-2 edge after 15 minutes of play. Buffalo struck first at the 2:03 mark when T Dhane Smith (2g, 1a) scored in transition.
In a wild back-and-fourth second quarter, nine goals were scored between the two teams. After Buffalo F Mitch Jones opened the scoring with an early power play goal, T Brock Sorensen and Jackson combined for a pair of special teams goals, the former coming shorthanded, to open up a 5-3 lead. During a Bandits power play Sorensen used his big 6-foot-6 frame to reach around from behind the net, beating G Anthony Cosmo (44 saves) inside the post. Buffalo was able to fight back with three goals in under two minutes to take the lead 6-5, but another late run by Minnesota gave the home team an 8-6 edge heading into the break. Gillam, Crawford and Schuss each found the back of the net in a 2:39 span to close out the first-half scoring.
A scoreless third frame marked the second time this season the Swarm and Bandits were unable to light the lamp for an entire quarter. Each team killed off a penalty and each goaltender made 10 saves to keep the score at 8-6 heading into the final 15 minutes. Back on March 23 the two teams were held off the board in the first quarter in a 10-9 overtime victory for Minnesota.
The goalless streak finally ended when Bandits F Jamie Rooney broke loose in transition to open the second half scoring at 3:01 in the fourth. Benesch’s second of the game tied things up at eight apiece before a clutch challenge by Sullivan granted Matisz a goal which was initially called off for a crease violation. Video review showed that Matisz, who was diving headfirst across the crease, did not touch down prior to the crossing the line.
One of the primary reasons the Swarm were able to come out on top was their strong day in the special teams department. Minnesota’s power play scored on their first three opportunities before finishing 3-for-5, and their penalty kill unit held Buffalo to a paltry 2-for-6 with the man advantage, while adding Sorensen’s shorthanded goal.
The victory was softened by the news that, due to the Toronto Rock’s victory on Saturday, the Swarm were eliminated from playoff contention. However, Sullivan chose to focus on the positives rather than dwell on the negatives.
“Our guys showed a lot of character, a lot of poise, and it’s a little too late, too soon, with Toronto winning tonight to get us out of the playoffs, but probably the bigger thing is where we are going,” Sullivan explained. “Both the teams we play in the next two weeks are playoff teams, so we want to put our stamp on where we should have been and be able to honestly say we should have been in the playoffs.” The Swarm wrap up the 2014 season with a pair of games at The Hive, starting on April 19 when the Colorado Mammoth come to town and concluding with a matchup with the Rock on April 26.
Saturday night was a big one for the Randy Shaver Cancer Research and Community Fund (RSCRCF), which was the star of Hive Cares Night. With their 10-goal performance, the Swarm players helped donate $1,000 to the RSCRCF, which funds cancer research, prevention, treatment and other programs in Minnesota. The Swarm also donned specialty uniforms on Saturday, which will auctioned online with proceeds benefitting RSCRCF. For a chance to win a game-worn jersey, visit auctions.mnswarm.com. The bidding will remain open for another week, closing on Saturday, April 19. Throughout the history of the Hive Cares Initiative, the Swarm have raised over $54,000 for RSCRCF.
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.