SAINT PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Swarm kicks off its seventh season at Xcel Energy Center this Saturday, Jan. 8 at 7:30 p.m. CST against the Rochester Knighthawks on Treasure Island Field.
Minnesota finished 5-11 last season and reached the postseason for the fourth time in team history. The Swarm lost to the eventual NLL champion Washington Stealth in the first round, 14-10.
Minnesota returns three of the NLL’s Top 10 point scorers from the 2010 season in forwards Callum Crawford (32g, 64a), Aaron Wilson (40g, 49a) and Ryan Benesch (28g, 55a).
“Our offense will look very similar to last season, but defensively we will have a different look,” General Manager Marty O’Neill said. “This season we are looking to do a better job of pushing the tempo. We have a good nucleus of guys returning and we are confident the new players that we have brought in will only make us stronger.”
In the offseason, O’Neill added toughness on defense with the acquisitions of Rory Smith and Andrew Suitor. Smith, 23, was selected fourth overall in the Dispersal Draft of the Orlando Titans and Suitor, 21, was the Swarm’s first round draft pick (fourth overall) in the 2010 NLL Entry Draft.
“We will be a lot more physical this season,” Head Coach Mike Lines said. “I think that’s something both our players and fans will appreciate. It will allow our smaller guys to play bigger and it will give our offensive guys more space.”
The Knighthawks will enter Saturday’s contest with a different look than when they visited Xcel Energy Center last April. In the offseason, Rochester traded its all-time leading scorer F John Grant to Colorado in exchange for the 2010 NLL Goalie of the Year Matt Vinc. In the 2010 NLL draft, the Knighthawks selected Syracuse star F Cody Jamieson with the first overall pick.
Rochester defeated Minnesota last season at Xcel Energy Center on April 9, 12-11. Forwards Aaron Wilson (3g, 3a) and Callum Crawford (2g, 4a) each tallied six points in the loss.
The Knighthawks finished fifth in the East Division in 2010 with a 7-9 record. Minnesota is 4-7 all-time against Rochester and holds a 3-3 record in season openers.
Saturday’s game is ‘Native American Heritage Night’ at the Hive presented by Treasure Island Resort & Casino and the Prairie Island Indian Community. Heritage Night will pay tribute to local Native American youth lacrosse players as well as feature a traditional game from the Oneida Warriors at halftime. Fans arriving early will receive bam sticks courtesy of Treasure Island Resort & Casino and the Prairie Island Indian Community.
Minnesota and Rochester players who participated in the 2010 FIL World Lacrosse Championships this past July in England will be honored at the end of halftime. Team USA defeated Team Canada for the Gold Medal, 12-10. The Swarm will also recognize the Iroquois National Team members who were unable to attend the World Championships.
Fans not in attendance can watch this Saturday’s contest LIVE by visiting mnswarm.com or nll.com.
For more information regarding 2011 Minnesota Swarm tickets please call 888-MN-SWARM or visit mnswarm.com.