With the biggest game of the team’s history on their backs, the Minnesota Swarm could be forgiven a little pressure related ugliness. However, after a promising start, the Swarm fell behind 6 to 1 by the end of the first, an absolutely unheard of score in the NLL.
The second quarter would not fare any better for the home team, as Edmonton continued to pad its lead, while the Swarm offense just could not get going. The Swarm went 27:07 in the half without a goal. That amount of time is enough to score a baker’s dozen, and the Swarm went scoreless.
Sure, the five minute major to Joe Cinosky didn’t help the Swarm, but to put up just one goal in the half? That’s just plain beyond words.
The Rush were boxing out on defense, Aaron Bold was a wall in net, and the Rush offense was clicking. The Swarm on the other hand, we in disarray. Defense allowing easy shots, goalies missing shots they should have, offense missing the net, and no transition to speak of.
The second half opened with more of the same. The Rush took it as far as 12-1 before Corbyn Tao finally answered, ending a 38:10 scoreless run. Ryan Benesch would add his fourth of the playoffs, but with the hole they had dug, the task was simply insurmountable.
To their credit, this game was more a Rush victory than a Swarm loss. Bold stood on his head several times, the defense was absolutely stellar, and the offense picked the Swarm apart.
Save for the Andrew Suitor beat down of Tom Johnson late in the game (which got Suitor ejected), there wasn’t much for Swarm fans to cheer about, and yet nearly the entire crowd stayed to the bitter end.
With that, the dream of a Champions Cup in Minnesota comes to an abrupt halt, and the Swarm are left to ponder what went wrong over one of the longest offseasons in sports.
Both Coach Joe Sullivan and Suitor were quick to point out the positives of the season. They both mentioned that this team was not supposed to be in the West finals. Now with four first round picks, and 12 guys now with a full season under their belts, the future of this team is bright.
It might not feel like it tonight, but it is.