Time to party. - Angela Taylor - ACT1 Photography
The Minnesota Swarm double up with the Toronto Rock and Washington Stealth this weekend, including the home opener on Saturday.
The Minnesota Swarm have been stewing for over a week. The NLL schedule had them open on the road, a 13-12 loss to the Buffalo bandits, and then had them sit for a week and think about it. That can't have sat well with anyone on the team, especially as other teams move to having played three and four games.
This weekend, things even out a bit.
The Swarm are back in action as they head to Toronto to face the Rock of Friday, and then head home to Treasure Island Field at the X for their home opener against the Washington Stealth on Saturday. For Swarm fans, Saturday cannot come fast enough. After waiting through one of the longest off seasons in sports, and watching their home team draft four times in the first round, Swarm fans are hungry.
First, though, the Swarm have to get through the Rock, not an easy prospect against a team that is consistently contending for the Champions Cup. Currently led in scoring by Colin Doyle (2G, 12A), and Garrett Billings (3G, 11A), the Rock also have stars Bill Greer and Josh Sanderson. Goaltender Nick Rose, with one defensive player of the week award under belt already this season, anchors the defense with a 2-1 record and a solid 9.33 GAA.
The Rock are a tough team to beat anywhere, but at home, the Rock are going to be looking to exact revenge for a loss in their home opener to the Philadelphia Wings.
The Swarm will go into Friday without their captain Andrew Suitor, once again. Suitor is serving a two game suspension for a fight in last year's playoffs, leaving his team without one of the key pieces and arguably their best defender. Still, players like Ryan Benesch, Callum Crawford, and Jordan MacIntosh will have plenty of weapons at their disposal, and have as good a chance as anyone to steal one in Toronto. If the Swarm can avoid looking past the Rock to the home opener on Saturday, this will be a very good game.
On Saturday, the main event of the weekend, as the Swarm finally come home to the Hive. Suitor will return, and you can bet the crowd will be raucous and loud. The last time these fans saw the Swarm in action, it was the West finals, and they watched their team fall to be eliminated from the playoffs. Now, those same fans, and hopefully a few new ones, will great goaltenders Evan Kirk and Tyler Carlson, along with their favorite goal scorers in Benesch and Crawford.
This will be a chance to great rookies Brock Sorenson, Kiel Matisz, Shayne Jackson, and Alex Crepinsek to the collective, and get to see the rest of the team grow into their roles. Players like MacIntosh, Corbyn Tao, Jay Card, Tyler Haas, and Mitch Belisle will have the fans on their feet in no time.
The Washington Stealth will look to ruin the opener for the Swarm, and continue a great start to their season after finishing 4-12 in 2012. Watch for players like Cliff Amith (6G, 9A), perennial all-star Rhys Duchs (9G, 6A), and Anthan Iannucci (4G, 5A) to lead the Stealth attack. Former Swarm goaltender Nick Patterson will return to the X for the first time since being released by the Swarm last season. He or Tyler Richards will get the start, and will do their best to slow down the Swarm offense.
Take the over on the number of times you'll hear Chelsea Dagger on Saturday. It should certainly be a good time.
Tickets for Saturday are still available at MNSwarm.com. Whether you decide to join the fastest game on two feet live, or watch streaming live on YouTube, make sure you stop back here at Hockey Wilderness, and our Swarm Hub, for in game conversation and game recaps.