March 31, 2010 - National Lacrosse League (NLL) - Minnesota Swarm
SAINT PAUL, MN - The National Lacrosse League's (NLL) Minnesota Swarm (5-6) will return to Xcel Energy Center for the first time in over a month this Saturday, April 3rd at 7:35 p.m. CST when the team battles the Edmonton Rush (7-4). Minnesota will be wearing pink and black uniforms in addition to specially made pink Reebok helmets in part of a league-wide initiative to "Black Out Breast Cancer."
The Swarm fell to Edmonton on the road this past Saturday, 16-14, in their second game of a back-to-back. Minnesota defeated the defending champion Calgary Roughnecks the night before, 17-13, at Pengrowth Saddledome. Despite remaining a game under .500, the Swarm will have a chance to clinch a playoff spot with a win over Edmonton and a loss from Colorado this weekend.
"We have to do a better job of showing up early in the game this week against Edmonton," said F Sean Pollock, who recorded four points (3g, 1a) in Saturday's loss. "Last week, the Rush came out hungrier than we were and they deserved to win that game. We have to be ready to go this weekend at home."
Facing an early 6-1 deficit in the first quarter, the Swarm managed to climb back into the game at halftime, cutting Edmonton's lead to 10-7. The Rush however, had an answer for every Minnesota run in the second half and walked away with their seventh win on the season. F Aaron Wilson led the Swarm with eight points (2g, 6a), while F Callum Crawford added seven points (3g, 4a) and rookie F Zack Greer (3g) recorded his first hat trick as a pro.
Edmonton will be the last divisional team the Swarm sees this season; Minnesota is 5-4 this year in the West. With a victory over the Rush by a margin greater than three goals, the Swarm would hold tiebreakers over every divisional opponent heading into the playoff race. "That would be a huge advantage for us coming down the stretch," said Head Coach Mike Lines.
Minnesota heads into the final month of the season as one of the hottest teams in the league, having won four of their last six games. During that time, the Swarm has developed one of the most feared offenses in the NLL. Minnesota combined for 31 goals and converted on nine of eleven power plays this past weekend. The 17 goals scored in Calgary were a season-high and even more impressively, came on just 36 shots on goal.
"We worked very hard for our chances," said Pollock. "Most of the shots we had were high quality scoring opportunities. If we are scoring 31 goals in two games, we are obviously doing something right on offense."
At the weekend's end, Minnesota finished with three of the league's Top 12 scorers. Wilson (6th), Crawford (8th) and F Ryan Benesch (11th) all totaled at least 14 points in the two game span. Benesch finished with a team-record 11 points and nine assists in Calgary.
In front of the net, G Nick Patterson did some record setting himself. Patterson recorded a personal and franchise best 59 saves while facing a career-high 72 shots against the Roughnecks.
"It was definitely the best game he has played this year and I'd even say it was even one of the best games I've seen him play in the last few years," said Lines. "He did everything we wanted him to do and stayed focused through out."
This Saturday, fans can purchase the Onword Spirit "Swarm On" T-Shirt Ticket Package for $25 and receive a ticket to the game along with a special commemorative Hive Cares T-shirt, $3 of which will go to the Grace Fund on behalf of Julie Johnson. Tickets are available online at mnswarm.com or by calling 888-MN-SWARM.