Ladies and gentlemen, they got it. Yes, your Minnesota Swarm have finally clinched their playoff spot, and can now look forward to clinching a home playoff spot.
After losing three straight potential clinching games, the Swarm came out of the gates hard and fast tonight, with goaltender Kevin Croswell growing legs on his shoulders and playing on his head all night. Forty seven saves on 55 shots in his first start of the season, in a playoff clinching performance.
The defenses for both teams were on lock down mode for the majority of the game, until the Calgary Roughnecks coach seems to have lost his mind and pulled his goaltender with over three minutes to play. Even after the Swarm repeatedly scored on the open net, the Roughnecks continued to pull the goalie.
The Swarm would make them pay each and every time, including one time in which Andy Suitor, who had his first four goals of the season in this one, would be chopped down from behind by Dane Dobbie and a goal awarded rather than a penalty shot. After the game, Suitor doubted the play was dirty, and said Dobbie was "just trying to make a play," and "If the roles were opposite, I may have made the same play."
A very happy Croswell, laughing at the silly question, said his neck felt good after standing on his head, and said he "was seeing the ball well and controlling rebounds." He did not know if he would get the start in the game next week, saying that was a "coaches decision." With the way he played, it should be a difficult decision for coach Lines.
The team was understandably happy, especially for the fans and the owners. Suitor mentioned how it was nice to win one for the fans, saying the team has "been on a bit of a slump in this building lately and they don't deserve to see that when they come out here."
After the performance tonight, all is likely forgiven from the Hive faithful.
The Swarm now head to Washington for a road game against the Stealth, before coming home to close out the season at home against the Philadelphia Wings and Colorado Mammoth.
Three Stars of the Game:
1. Kevin Croswell (47 saves)
2. Andrew Suitor (4 goals)
3. Aaron Wilson (2 goals, 3 Assists)
Photo Credit to Todd Foell, Todd James Photography.