January 12, 2013 - National Lacrosse League (NLL) - Minnesota Swarm
BUFFALO, New York - The National Lacrosse League's (NLL) Minnesota Swarm (0-1) lost their season opener against the Buffalo Bandits (1-1) despite strong performances from the left side of their offense. Swarm Captain Andrew Suitor did not play Saturday night; he is forced to miss the first two games of 2013 due to a game misconduct penalty last postseason.
Shayne Jackson, a left-handed rookie out of Limestone College, scored four points (3g, 1a) for the Swarm in his first NLL game. When asked about the strong start to his Swarm career Jackson said, "It was good to start off the season (with three goals), but that doesn't really matter because the win was ultimately what we wanted." Jackson was drafted fourth overall by Minnesota in the 2012 NLL Entry Draft.
2011 NLL Scoring Champion Ryan Benesch provided firepower from the left side as well, nabbing seven points (4g, 3a) in the season opener. When asked about his performance Saturday night Benesch said, "I always credit my teammates. The guys I play with on offense are so skilled...they give me space and time to shoot the ball so the credit goes to them."
Forward Callum Crawford, last season's points leader with 83 (25g, 58a), scored five points for Minnesota (2g, 3a) to kick off his eighth year in the NLL.
Second year goaltender Evan Kirk, who led the NLL in save percentage last season, had 45 saves on the night. When asked about Kirk's contributions, Swarm Head Coach Joe Sullivan said, "Our defense and Evan Kirk played strong to allow our offense to get going...unfortunately it didn't last the whole game so we came up short."
The Swarm never trailed on the night until Bandit Chad Culp scored a power play goal 7:19 seconds into the fourth quarter to give Buffalo an 11-10 advantage. Less than a minute later, Benesch countered with a goal of his own to knot the score up at 11-11. Benesch struck again 8:40 seconds into the quarter, snatching up a loose ball, spinning around three defenders, and finding the back of the net to put the Swarm up 12-11. Culp scored minutes later, followed by a Dhane Smith goal to decide the game.
"We thought we should have won that game", Benesch said. "Overall, I think it's pretty positive. We have a lot of rookies and they stepped up tonight. Shayne Jackson had a great game...couldn't ask for a better game from a (rookie)."
Earlier in the week Coach Sullivan mentioned that as the team's rookies get better, the team will improve as well. His tone did not change Saturday night after a tough loss on the road. "(Rookies) Crepinsek, Jackson, Sorensen, and Matisz just played a full game and they're better for it. We're better for it as an organization to be able to develop our young guys."
The Swarm season continues January 25th at Toronto. The team's home opener will be January 26th against Washington during Native American Heritage Night.