You've heard about it all week. You've read about the social media battle, the dancing Swarm players, the discounted tickets for you poor Minnesota sports fans, the owner of the Rush on local radio trash talking Minnesota for their lack of care for lacrosse... Now it's time to put up or shut up.
The Minnesota Swarm host the Edmonton Rush in the West Division Finals at the Xcel Energy Center tonight at 8:30. This is the first time these two teams have met in the post season, but is surely not the first meeting between the two. The season series is tied at one game each, with both games being decided in overtime. What that sets up is sure to be a classic game that will go down in Swarm lore.
Do not let the Rush's 7-10 record fool you. Captain Andrew Suitor said the Swarm are not, in any way, looking past the Rush. He noted that the Swarm have "won five in a row, but the Rush have won four in a row," making these two of the hottest teams in the NLL. What Suitor failed to note is that the Swarm have not lost since the media game.
Coincidence? Likely not.
The Rush have a strong defense, and put up 19 goals against the number one overall seed in Calgary last week. The Swarm had their own upset, as they knocked off the Colorado Mammoth, in Denver, in front of 14,000 fans. Rookie Evan Kirk let just ten goals in, and Ryan Benesch stepped up big time to lead the offense. In between, the Swarm put together a complete game from beginning to end, with defense and transition play both being solid as well.
This week, the Swarm will likely adapt their game a bit to meet the challenge they know is ahead of them. It will be a tight checking game, and likely low scoring, as the two prior game were 10-9 and 9-8, two scores that are almost unheard of in the NLL.
Not surprisingly, the Swarm are happy to be home again, after winning their first playoff game in team history. Suitor laughed as he said, "Hopefully, the gorilla is off of our back. You can't even call it a monkey, it was way bigger than that. Hopefully everything works out and maybe we'll have two more games here."
That could be the case, as the Swarm are the second highest seed left in the playoffs. If the Rochester Knighthawks can defeat the Toronto Rock, and the Swarm can beat the Rush, the Champions Cup would be held here in St. Paul for the first time ever.
But that's something they can worry about after tonight. For now, this is a big one, Swarm fans. Tickets are still available, and the game will also be broadcast on CBS Sports Net, nationwide, for the third straight week. Do yourself a favor and head down to the X. You won't regret it.
If you haven't been there before, bring a cowbell. You'll understand when you get there.