The Minnesota Swarm hosted Dog Day at the Hive last week, found out their captain, Andrew Suitor will not return to the team this season, and fell to the Edmonton Rush 14-9. The dog days of August would likely be more welcome right now than another road game. Without the benefit of time travel, and no one wanting to forfeit a game, the Swarm will head to Washington to face the Stealth.
There is no love loss between the Swarm and Stealth. To be sure, the two teams don't care much for each other, and the Rush knocked the Swarm out of the playoffs in last season's finale. The Swarm will most certainly be still be looking to get revenge for any number of transgressions at the hands of the Rush, despite already beating them once this season.
The Swarm's offense struggled mightily against the Rush at home last weekend, being held scoreless into the third quarter. If they want to beat the Stealth, the sleeping giant is going to need to wake up. Many players, such as Ryan Benesch, have dedicated the rest of the season to their fallen captain, which should bring some added motivation. Kyle Matisz was named Rookie of the Week, yet again, by the NLL, and the Swarm will need him and fellow rookies Brock Sorenson and Shayne Jackson to step up their game in the absence of Suitor.
On top of offensive struggles, the mighty Swarm wall in net is showing signs of weakness. Evan Kirk has been pulled from three of the five games he has appeared in, but still has a 2-1 record, and his GAA sits at 14.56. With a 1-4 record, Tyler Carlson has not had the benefit of much goal support, but is playing much better than Kirk at this juncture. Giving up just 11.68 goals a game should be more than good enough to win most nights in the NLL. If there were bets to be placed, Head Coach Joe Sullivan has to be leaning toward Carlson starting tonight.
The Stealth are a known quantity in Minnesota. Rhys Duchs, Lewis Ratcliff, and Anthan Iannucci will lead the charge, while Tyler Richards will backstop the team. The key to victory will be finding a way to contain Duchs, and his 51 points (25G, 26A), without losing track of the rest of the offense. The Swarm should be able to get to Richards, who they have a fair idea on how to beat.
No matter how they go about it, the Swarm need a win. At the halfway point, the team sits at 3-5, with the Stealth leading the pack at 5-4. It is not an enviable position to be in, but this team is certainly capable of climbing back from adversity. They will need to do so missing the heart and soul of their team, and they will need to do so tonight by proving to the rest of the league that they are not a defeated group.
Game time is 5PM, and you can watch on YouTube as well as MNSwarm.com.