Having pulled themselves above .500, and helping earn Goaltender Evan Kirk a second rookie of the week nod, and a rookie of the month award, the Minnesota Swarm certainly seem to have found their game. With an offense that is scoring goals almost at will, a defense playing as tough as anyone in the game, and two backstops able to carry the team, the Swarm are poised to make their run.
That run starts tonight in Calgary, as the Swarm head west yet again to face the Roughnecks. This is the first meeting between these two rivals this year, and it promises to be a good one. The Roughnecks hold the series edge by just one game, but hold a 4-2 advantage over the Swarm in Calgary. The Nicks sit one game ahead of the Swarm in standings, and a win for the Swarm would move them even, and give them the tie breaker, moving them into second place in the West. You can bet both sides want this one dearly.
The Swarm have turned their offensive onslaught into a well balanced game in the past few few weeks, but don't let that fool you. This team still boats Ryan Benesch and Callum Crawford, so if you think for a second they can't run the score up, you'd be fooling yourself. Add in players like Jordan McIntosh, Andrew Suitor, Corbin Tao, and the surprising play of nearly every rookie on the team, and the Swarm are ready for anything.
Just for good measure, defenseman Jeff Gilbert leads the league in shorthanded goals with ten. Who? Yeah. Jeff Gilbert. Even if the Swarm are shorthanded, they'll still score. That has to be disconcerting for the opposition.
Hopefully someone in Calgary was watching the NLL All-Star game last weekend, otherwise they may have missed how the Swarm players there quietly led the West to victory. The Minnesota Swarm, a silent killer.
Of course, Calgary had a pretty good time last weekend as well. They handed the league leading Colorado Mammoth their first defeat, proving to the NLL world that not only are the Roughnecks for real, but that the Mammoth aren't superhuman. That win changed everything for the standings, and set up a great game between two very good lacrosse clubs tonight.
The Roughnecks bring an interesting offensive attack with five players with 27 points or more.Jeff Shattler leads the team with 35 points (13G, 22A), with Curtis Dickson (15G, 15A), Shawn Evans (12G, 17A), Daryl Veltman (13G, 14A), and Scott Ranger (9G, 18A) all right behind him. That many guys who can score will be tough test for Swarm defense, a test they have certainly been up to until this point.
How will it all shake out? Tune in on the NLL Network at NLL.com at 8PM tonight to find out.