When the Minnesota Swarm and Philadelphia Wings face-off tonight, there will be more at stake than just second place in the Western Division and potential home field advantage in the playoffs. Tonight also marks "The Hive Cares" night at the X, with proceeds from a number of fundraising activities being donated to the Randy Shaver Cancer Research and Community Fund.
The Swarm will wear pink striped jerseys and pink helmets, both of which are being auctioned off to benefit both the RSCRCF and local lacrosse initiatives. The Swarm Performance team is auctioning off their shirts from the evening, signed by the entire PT, and even "The Professor" and Buzz (the Swarm's mascot) are in on the action.
Other donations are being given through the "Coach's Challenge" in which partners have pledged to donate $10 for each Swarm goal scored, matching the challenge issued by Swarm coach Mike Lines. SBNation has joined the challenge, and hope for a tight defensive battle tonight. Finally, and likely the most significant donation is coming directly from the Swarm as $3 of every $20 ticket will be donated to the RSCRCF.
If all of that is not reason enough to head out to the game, the fact that they still plan to play NLL lacrosse should be reason enough.
This is another big game, as the Swarm close out the season with two games at home. They need to win out, and have the Washington Stealth lose their remaining game, in order to have a home playoff game this season. A win tonight over the already eliminated Wings would go a long way in terms of morale and standings.
Being the first meeting of the season between the two teams, there is little to go on to tell you what to expect, but the Swarm are the third highest scoring team in the league right now, and Ryan Benesch is the league's leading goal scorer, and second highest point scorer in terms of points per game, and with money for charity on the line, you can expect the Swarm to come out with the back of the net at the front of their minds.
Coach Mike Lines said that “Ryan has really dedicated himself to being a better player all around. He’s doing other things really well, and then obviously he’s putting the ball in the net. He contributes his success to the players around him. Ross is doing a great job on that side of the floor freeing him up and Jamie Shewchuk had an excellent game last week. Ryan has been steady and deserves everything that he has got this year with all the hard work he has put in.”
However, no one in the Swarm locker room expects this to be an easy win. The Wings have a roster full of professionals, and no one likes to lose. Lines said of the Wings, "They’re a young, and athletic team that never gives up,” Lines said. “They’re very good defensively and that has a lot to do with their athleticism. I don’t expect them to roll over and die because they aren’t in the playoffs."
They're going to need to be very good defensively if they expect to slow down a pumped up Swarm team tonight.