SAINT PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Swarm (1-1) returns home on Saturday, Jan. 22 to take on the Edmonton Rush (0-2) on Treasure Island Field at Xcel Energy Center. Game time is set for 7:30 p.m. CST.
Minnesota is coming off a convincing 16-8 road victory against the defending NLL champion Washington Stealth (1-2) last weekend. F Ryan Benesch had a career night with a game-high 11 points (7g, 4a) and set a personal and team record for most goals scored in a regular season game with seven.
“I always say this, but it’s because of everyone else that I’m able to do what I do,” Benesch said. “I might have scored the goals, but there are a lot of other guys that did grunt work, which allowed me to get the shots that I got.”
Benesch leads the NLL in points (16) and goals (9) in 2011 despite the fact that two other teams have played in one more game than the Swarm this season.
Benesch isn’t the only hot hand on the team; Minnesota’s offense as a unit is off to a fast start as well. The Swarm is averaging a league best 13 goals per game and ranks first in power-play percentage (54.5%), converting on 6 of 11 chances thus far. The team is also finishing strong in the fourth quarter, posting a league-best seven goals in two games.
On the other side of the ball, the defense is also making its presence felt. Minnesota limited Washington’s offense, which featured the league’s No. 1 F Rhys Duch and No. 2 F Lewis Ratcliff scorers at the time, to just eight goals on 58 shots in its 16-8 victory.
“That might have been the best all-around and consistent effort I’ve seen in the four years I’ve been here,” Coach Mike Lines said. “Top to bottom, guys bought into what we were trying to do. Everybody listened and did the job they were assigned to.”
This week’s matchup features another divisional opponent in the Edmonton Rush, who enter Saturday’s contest with a 0-2 record after losing to both Toronto and Boston on the road.
“We want to do the same thing to Edmonton as we did to Washington last week,” Benesch said. “They are 0-2 right now and we have a chance to put them in a big hole. Obviously to get over .500 would be great and that is one of our goals.”
Edmonton defeated the Swarm twice last season, winning at home 16-14 on Mar. 27 and at Xcel Energy Center 13-12 in overtime on April 3. The all-time series between the two teams is currently tied at 2-2.
Minnesota is looking for back-to-back wins for the first time since last February, where it defeated the Colorado Mammoth two weeks in a row. Friday’s win against Washington also snapped an eight game losing streak dating back to last season.
Lines said the win in Washington was a confidence boost, but also emphasized it’s only one game.
“It was a huge relief for everyone from the coaching staff right down to the players, especially considering the way we won and who we beat,” Lines said. “At the same time, we can’t get too excited about it. The bottom line is that it was only one game and if we don’t keep winning that way, we will find ourselves in the same situation as last year.”
Companies and individuals can donate tickets to send local heroes (military members, fireman, policemen, teachers) to Heroes Night at the Hive this Saturday. Early arriving fans will receive cowbells courtesy of 4imprint.
Lower level single game tickets can be purchased for as low as $24 for 2011 home games. Tickets are available online at mnswarm.com or by calling 888-MN-SWARM.