Over the next few weeks MNSwarm.com will be hitting the rewind button and taking a look back at the 10th Season of Minnesota Swarm Lacrosse on a month-by-month basis. Make sure to check back each week to relive all the highs, lows, great individual efforts and memorable team performances that made 2014 an exciting year in The Hive.
Swarm Season in Review- March
Battle in Buffalo:
After playing half of their regular-season schedule without crossing paths with their East Division rivals from Buffalo, the Swarm were ready to get reacquainted with the Bandits as the calendar turned to March. After an off week to start the month, Minnesota would play the Bandits twice over their next three games, beginning with a matchup at First Niagara Center on March 8.
The Swarm started the game with a surge, building a 6-2 lead early in the second quarter. But the Bandits, who sat atop the division standings at the time, answered with four-straight to tie the game before halftime. The second half was incredibly tight, with the two teams alternating goals, which led to a 9-9 stalemate with under five minutes to play in the game.
Unfortunately, the home team had the last laugh as Buffalo T Dhane Smith netted what became the game-winner, and F Mark Steenhuis potted two quick goals to help the Bandits pull away late with a 12-9 victory. Forwards Josh Gillam (3g, 1a) and Callum Crawford (4a) led the Swarm on the score sheet in the defeat.
Home Woes Continue against the Rock:
After suffering three-straight losses at The Hive to begin the 2014 season, the Swarm were starving for some success on their home turf. On March 16 they were one shot away from getting what they were looking for, as they used a late comeback against the Toronto Rock to force sudden-death overtime. But in the end they came out empty once again when Rock F Colin Doyle scored 93 seconds into the extra frame giving the Rock a thrilling 9-8 win at Xcel Energy Center.
The Swarm offense took a while to get going against Toronto (their first goal came when F Logan Schuss scored over six minutes into the second quarter), they were able to click when needed, scoring four goals in the fourth quarter to erase an 8-4 Rock lead and send the game into overtime. The comeback was completed when rookie F Scott Jones and T Kiel Matisz connected 23 seconds apart to tie the game and nearly rip the roof of The Hive. Goaltender Tyler Carlson saved 32 of 38 shots in relief in a solid effort.
Showtime in Overtime:
The Swarm only had to wait two weeks for a chance to avenge their frustrating loss in Buffalo, and on March 23 they seized their opportunity, taking down the Bandits in a dramatic 10-9 overtime victory thanks to Callum “Showtime” Crawford’s game-winning goal 7:51 into extra time.
Just like the week before, the Swarm had to rally from a late deficit to force overtime, but this time they were able to finish the job, clinching their long-awaited first home victory of the season. Through regulation time the game was as close as can be, with the score ending in a tie after each quarter, including a scoreless opening frame – the first scoreless quarter in NLL history.
Minnesota was spurred to victory thanks to four-point performances from Schuss, Crawford and F Shayne Jackson and a dominant team output on defense, as the Swarm racked up a total of 83 loose balls and 31 forced turnovers. The win also put to rest the incredible 185-game scoring streak by Buffalo forward and living lacrosse legend John Tavares, who was held without a point for the first time since 2002.
Rough Ending in Calgary:
The Swarm had built a solid track record in over their last handful of games of outplaying their opponents down the stretch in the fourth quarter. However, on March 29 in Calgary the shoe was on the other foot as the Roughnecks were able to outscore Minnesota 6-2 in the final fifteen minutes to secure a 15-11 victory at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
Through 45 minutes the Swarm were able to keep the Roughnecks in check, holding a lead after the first and heading into the fourth quarter tied 9-9. But Calgary’s lethal offense led by Jeff Shattler (2g, 4a), Curtis Dickson (1g, 3a) and Daryl Veltman (3g, 1a) helped the hometown team pull away late.
Even though his team did not get the win, it was another big night for Crawford (1g, 5a), who reached the 500-career point plateau in his NLL career with a fourth-quarter goal.
PLAYER PROFILES: A CLOSER LOOK AT THE MONTH'S MOST PROLIFIC PERFORMERS
#98 Callum Crawford
Forward, 6’3’’, 205 lbs., Ottawa, Ontario
2014 Stats: 18 GP, 26 G, 54 A, 80 PTS, 6 PPG, 159 SOG, 92 LB, 11 FT
The most experienced member of the Swarm and the heart and soul of the offensive corps, Crawford continued his steady performance in the month of March. The eighth-year pro tallied 17 points (4g, 13a) over the stretch, none bigger than the goal that catapulted him into the elusive NLL 500-point club. The milestone was the first of several for “Showtime” in 2014, as he would go on to further etch his name in Swarm history later in April.
#81 Josh Gillam
Forward, 6’0’’, 180 lbs., Peterborough, Ontario
2014 Stats: 16 GP, 13 G, 15 A, 28 PTS, 3 PPG, 79 SOG, 57 LB
Playing his first full season with the Swarm in 2014 after splitting the last two campaigns between the NLL and professional hockey, Gillam saw his offensive production flourish in March. Armed with some of the best hands and stick skills in the league, the Dartmouth graduate tallied 10 (5g, 5a) of his 28 total points in the four games in March, including a hat trick in Buffalo (March 8).