SAINT PAUL, Minn. – Despite coming up short on the scoreboard, the National Lacrosse League’s (NLL) Minnesota Swarm (4-13) were part of a historic night at The Hive, as forward Callum Crawford delivered a record-setting performance in an 18-12 defeat at the hands of the Colorado Mammoth (7-10) in front of 7,961 at Xcel Energy Center on Saturday night.
Crawford (1g, 3a) broke a Minnesota franchise record when he tallied his 142nd career goal in a Swarm uniform in the first quarter, surpassing Ryan Benesch’s mark of 141, which he tied last weekend. The veteran found himself with possession of the ball on the left side of the Colorado cage and showcased his elite ball control, shaking off a bevy of Mammoth defenders before finally springing loose and beating G Dillon Ward.
“Ryan left his mark on this franchise and that won’t ever be forgotten,” Crawford said. “.... To have all of the records is something I can be proud of for a personal accomplishment, but I’d much rather have wins and a championship with it.”
It was also a record-setting evening for Swarm defensemen Jason Noble, who with his two forced turnovers set a new NLL record for forced turnovers in a season by a rookie (22). The No. 2 overall pick in the 2014 draft eclipsed Tyler Garrison’s mark of 21 set in 2013 as a member of the Washington Stealth.
Despite holding a 63-48 edge in shots-on-goal, the Swarm fell victim to a Mammoth squad that just couldn’t seem to miss. The visiting team was able to score early and often as they posted nine goals each half en route to posting their highest offensive output of the season. All but two players in a Colorado uniform tallied at least a point.
“We [started strong] and felt pretty good about it. Then they chipped away, chipped away, and chipped away and like a veteran team would do they are pretty resilient,” Swarm coach Joe Sullivan said. “We started gripping our sticks tight and all of a sudden we were missing passes and not making the right ones.”
Rookie F Logan Schuss continued his torrid play, notching seven points (4g, 3a) and recording his second-straight four-goal game, setting a new Swarm season record for rookie points in the process. Transition players Kiel Matisz (2g, 2a) and Jordan MacIntosh (4a) each had four-point nights, while forwards Josh Gillam (2g, 1a) and Shayne Jackson (1g, 2a) put up three points apiece.
The Swarm were able to dictate the pace early on, riding a 5-4 lead into the second quarter, but the Mammoth hit their stride in a second frame in which they outscored Minnesota 5-1, giving them a 9-6 lead going into halftime, one they never relinquished. Defensemen Dan Ball (2g, 1a), F Adam Jones (4g, 1a) and T Mat MacLeod (2g) combined to turn a 5-4 deficit into a 7-5 lead for Colorado to start the second before Schuss scored to bring the rally to a halt. However the Mammoth were able to strike back just over a minute later when F John Grant Jr. scored his first to reclaim the momentum for his team. Grant Jr. also had a memorable night, as during his five point (3g, 2a) performance he surpassed the 600 career-goal mark.
Minnesota was able to start the second half on a tear, scoring twice in the first 42 seconds. Just moments after Schuss scored his second of the game at the 0:30 mark, T David Earl sprung free on a breakaway and beat Ward unassisted to bring his team within one of tying the game. They were never able to find the equalizer however as Colorado went on to outscore the Swarm 4-1 over the rest of the third quarter, building a commanding 14-9 lead heading into the fourth.
The Mammoth would not rest on their lead either, putting another five on the board in the final frame to put the game well out of reach. Two quick goals by Gillam broke a 4-0 Colorado run and cut their lead to 15-11 with just under 10 minutes to play, but once again the Mammoth offense fought back, stringing together another three-goal run to grab an 18-11 lead, their largest of the night.
Despite giving up five goals in the first quarter, Ward played solid between the pipes for the Mammoth, turning aside a season and career-high 51 shots, giving the rookie his seventh win of the 2014 season. The victory was a big one for Colorado, as they punched their ticket into the NLL playoffs clinching West Division’s third seed.
The Swarm will take the floor one more time in 2014 next Saturday as they host the Toronto Rock at The Hive for Fan Appreciation Night. Despite their position on the periphery of the playoff picture, Minnesota is determined to finish their year on a high note.
“You want to win every game that you play in, no matter if it’s for a playoff spot, or the first game of the season,” said Earl. “We have a lot of guys in the locker room that are competitive, and when you’re competitive you want to win everything that you do.”
Early fans to next Saturday’s 7 p.m. CT faceoff will receive a 2014 Swarm team poster. 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.