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One last Hurrah

04/24/2014, 1:30pm CDT
By Brent Hollerud

The Swarm wrap up their 2014 schedule by hosting Toronto this Saturday

SAINT PAUL, Minn.– The 2014 contingent of the Minnesota Swarm (4-13) will take the turf for one last time this Saturday as they face off against their divisional rival Toronto Rock (8-9) at Xcel Energy Center during Fan Appreciation Night. Seats for the final game of the 10th Anniversary Season of Swarm Lacrosse are still available by calling 888-667-9276.  The 7 p.m. CT game will also be broadcast on Swarm Vision and MNSwarm.com thanks to YouTube via The Lacrosse Network.

At stake for Minnesota is the opportunity to deliver one more win in front of their home crowd this year during Fan Appreciation Night at The Hive. Early fans will receive a free team poster presented by Aspire Beverages and Visions Printing, and have the chance to get it signed during a post-game autograph session open to all fans. Select Hive Members will also win game-worn jerseys from Swarm players.

“It’s really about how we finish this off right, not only for us but for our fans,” said Swarm coach Joe Sullivan “It truly is that important to get that win.”

In order to finish strong the Swarm will need to shake off a tough 18-12 loss to the Colorado Mammoth last Saturday at The Hive. Despite outshooting the Mammoth 63-48 on the night, Minnesota could not contain a potent Colorado offense as they were outscored 14-7 over the final three quarters of the game.

Although the end result was not what the Swarm wanted, it was a big night for the team as three different players set franchise records, none bigger than the one claimed by F Callum Crawford. With a first-quarter goal, the veteran from Ottawa, Ontario netted his 142nd career goal in a Minnesota uniform, breaking the all-time mark of 141 held by Ryan Benesch. Crawford now owns the record for career points, goals and assists with the Swarm.

“To do anything in front of our fans is unbelievable,” said Crawford. “It’s a great feeling to have [the record] with such a great franchise.”

A pair of 2014 first-round draft picks also broke single-season rookie records against the Mammoth. Forward and two-time NLL Rookie of the Month Logan Schuss (4g, 3a) surpassed teammate Shayne Jackson’s mark of 61 points set last season. Schuss leads all NLL first-years with 68 points and 34 goals. With two forced turnovers on Saturday, D Jason Noble set a new NLL rookie record with 22 forced turnovers in a season, exceeding Tyler Garrison’s output of 21 set in 2013 with the Washington Stealth.

Personal achievements aside, the Swarm are looking to find success as a team this weekend as they cap off their season series with the Rock. Toronto has claimed both previous matchups this season, 14-12 on Feb. 22 at Air Canada Centre and 9-8 on March 22 at The Hive in overtime. In the all-time series between the two clubs, Toronto holds a slight 7-6 lead.

The Rock come to Saint Paul riding a three-game winning streak, with their most recent victory coming at home against the Buffalo Bandits last Friday, the team they will meet in the first round of the East Division playoffs. With a win Saturday Toronto can finish the season .500 after a 4-7 start and possibly steal the second seed out of the Bandits hands, but the Swarm are eager to deny them of both.

Toronto is missing their star forward and leading scorer Garrett Billings, who suffered an ACL tear in Vancouver on April 5 and will be out for the remainder of the season. Billings still sits atop the NLL scoring race with 101 points (32g, 69a) but will likely be passed by Rochester’s Cody Jamieson and Calgary’s Shawn Evans, each of whom carry 98 points into the final weekend of the season.  

Rounding out the Rock attack are forwards Stephan Leblanc (42g, 42a) and Rob Hellyer (28g, 27a). Hellyer is one of the league’s hottest players at the moment, putting up a staggering 27 points (7g, 20a) in his last three outings. Goaltender Brandon Miller has posted a 2-1 record and an 8.10 save percentage since being acquired from Philadelphia at the trade deadline.

A Minnesota Swarm game is something that has to be experienced live to be fully understood.  Fans can get that experience one last time in 2014 at The Hive for as low as $22 for a lower-level seat.  Visit mnswarm.com or call 888-667-9276 for more information.

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