As has been the case for the past three games, at least, the Minnesota Swarm found themselves locked in a defensive battle to start the game. In a two – zero hole, they just couldn’t find a way to solve Matt King, and looked like the Swarm were in for a long night.
However, as has been to M.O., Nick Patterson and the Swarm defense locked down, and gave the offense a chance to heat up. NLL scoring champion Ryan Benesch put in his customary three goals (adding five assists), and the Swarm found their way back to a 6-4 lead going into the half.
Then came the onslaught. The Swarm defense shut down the Mammoth from the 5:39 mark of the second until the 27 second mark of the fourth. In that span, the Swarm scored ten, yes ten, unanswered goals and were on their way to an easy victory.
Or so they thought.
The Mammoth found a grove, and the Swarm took some questionable calls in the fourth quarter, including a mind boggling illegal stick call against Andrew Suitor. The refs checked the length, the width, the depth of the stick, no issues. Then a web check was done, placing a ball in the webbing and turning the stick over.
One out of twenty attempts saw the ball not fall out immediately, and the stick was ruled illegal, giving the Mammoth a powerplay. When asked what the ruling was, Coach Mike Lines said, through a sly smile, “No comment on that.”
Looking a bit to the future, Lines called the home field advantage "huge for us. It’s a goal we set at the beginning of the year, and I’m glad we accomplished it. " Nick Patterson said it felt good, but that the team “needs to stay relaxed, keep the momentum.”
Newly minted scoring champ Benesch said home field was “Huge.” He added, “Another 9500 fans here tonight, the fans were rocking tonight. When we have that many fans here, it gives us the energy. We’d like to see them all back next week.”
The Swarm are certainly looking at some awards based on the season, including Nick Patterson, who was called “Goalie of the Year” by some tonight. Patterson laughed it off, saying “We’ll see what happens. We had a good year, great defensive effort from the team.”
Coach Lines and Ryan Benesch weren’t so shy with their praise. Lines said his play “Speaks for itself, he’s had a great season. He’s been a rock for us. Even when the game was close, he kept us in it, gave us a chance to win. He’s been fantastic for us.”
When Benesch was asked if Patterson was the Goalie of the Year, he quickly responded, “Definitely.”
Benesch, of course, has his own accolades to ponder, and as Lines suggested he would, Benesch defelcted the credit to his team. He said the title “Feels good, but it’s not important right now. What’s important is getting ready to play our home game in the playoffs next week.”
He did enjoy playing infornt of his family, with his dad, mom, and girlfriend in the stands. He called it, “Amazing.”
The win secures the Swarm a home play off game, if that wasn’t clear already. That game will be played next Saturday, April 30th at 7:30PM central time. This will be only the second home playoff game in team history, and the Swarm get a familiar opponent in the Stealth.
Coach Lines wants consistency. Ryan Benesch wants no credit for his title, and Nick Patterson laughs off his Goalie of the Year credentials. Sounds like a winning combination to me.