The Minnesota Swarm's 2013 regular season is over, and the post season has begun. Despite playing a solid game for 50 minutes, the hole the team dug was too much to overcome and the Swarm fell to the Mammoth 16-14. The loss moves the Swarm into the East for the playoffs, per the league's "crossover" rule meant to balance the league's team count.
The game started poorly for the Swarm, as the Mammoth pulled out to a lead early in the first, and were peppering Tyler Carlson from the start. Adam Jones fed off of the Swarm's need to double team John Grant, Jr, scoring five goals and adding three assists. Sean Pollock and Grant, Jr both added five points, and nine different Mammoth players scored in the win.
After a few minutes, and especially after the first quarter, the Swarm found their transition game and with it the rest of their game. Carlson was, arguably, the Swarm's best player again last night, and kept the team in the game through the rough patches, while Callum Crawford, Matt Gibson, and Ryan Benesch fought to pull the team back into the game.
In the third, the Swarm would pull ahead 9-8, but it would be the only lead they would hold, as Jones turned on the jets and the Mammoth found yet another gear to secure their playoff spot. With the Buffalo Bandits losing to the Rochester Knighthawks, the Mammoth were already in, but the win did work to keep the Mammoth in the West, and sent the Swarm East.
With the Swarm moving East, they will face the Toronto Rock, a task that is not an easy one. They also will not get a home playoff game, no matter what happens or who they beat. If they want a championship, it will need to be won on the road. That game will be played a week from today. It is not an insurmountable task, as the Swarm beat the Rock once this year and all but gave them the other game at the beginning of the year.
Look for next week to be an even more emotional game, as the young Swarm team faces the veteran Rock. It's playoff time.
Buffalo's loss means they are the sole team in the NLL to not make the playoffs, and puts the Swarm in the enviable position of holding the first overall draft pick, having received Buffalo's first round pick in the Anthony Cosmo trade last season. To add to that, the Swarm hold their own pick, as well as two others in the first round, giving them four total picks in the first round for the second straight season.
Asked about the confrontation with Mammoth coach Bob Hamley, Swarm coach Joe Sullivan said, "He's trying to rally his team, I just don't have a lot of respect for coaches who want to yell at players." He added, "The game is played on the field, and those guys have to battle. I'm not in that battle, and he definitely is not in that battle. Just stay out of it. Coach your team, do the best you can to get them prepared, and let them handle it on the floor." Sullivan finished by saying, "He (Hamley) wants to be something that he's not."