The Minnesota Swarm accomplished something tonight they never have before. With their 14-10 victory over the Colorado Mammoth, the Swarm won for the first time in team history in the playoffs.
After last week’s matchup here in St. Paul, the Swarm had a fairly decent game plan for what it took to defeat the Mammoth. However, headed back to Denver changed the entire thinking process. A loud, sell out crowd would add to the atmosphere, and the Mammoth would use that home field advantage.
That advantage proved to be less than impressive.
The Swarm took the lead early and never relinquished it. Ryan Benesch led the way for the Swarm with seven points (3G, 4A), Jay Card added four points (2G, 2A), and Callum Crawford five points (1G, 4A). The story of the night, however, has to be goalie Evan Kirk.
With last week’s starter, Tyler Carlson, showing he can hold the Mammoth in check, it was a bit of a surprise to see coach Joe Sullivan come back with Kirk. As has been the case all year, though, the rookie goaltender closed the door when needed, and came up with huge saves at key times to keep the Swarm in the game.
John Grant, Jr has seven points (5G, 2A), and at one point had his team within one of the Swarm. His defensive play, or lack thereof, however led to to at least three goals for the Swarm. For the MVP of the league, his game has strong air of “Randy Moss-ism” to it. He certainly seems to play when he wants to, and shows absolutely no effort when caught in transition.
While Grant, Jr put seven points up, the Swarm found yet another complete team game, and never let the Mammoth control the game. Captain Andrew Suitor was held without a point, but played strong defensively. Rookie Jordan MacIntosh was once again strong in the faceoff circle, and added two points of his own (1G, 1A).
With the Swarm headed for the West Finals next week, John Arlotta has to be proud of what he has accomplished with this team. Arlotta traded away a number of veterans, including their captain, adding draft pick after draft pick. The criticism flew with few understanding what Arlotta was trying to do.
What he was trying to accomplish certainly was plain as day tonight.
With the Swarm’s win, and the Edmonton Rush defeating the top seed Calgary Roughnecks, the Swarm will host the West Finals this coming Saturday at 8:30. Tickets will be available starting at 10:00AM on Monday on MNSwarm.com
It’s time, Minnesota sports fans. Pack the Hive. If you’ve never attended an NLL game, this is the time to do it. I mean, what else are you going to do? This is a winning sports team in the Twin Cities. It’s time to show some support.