The Minnesota Swarm started the season on a sour note. Captain Andrew Suitor was serving a carry over suspension, and the team lost their first two game of the season. Suitor returned, the team found itself a bit, but found it difficult to find consistency. Then Suitor was injured, the Swarm lost three straight before going 5-2 to finish the regular season and grab the final playoff spot,but not before losing their final game and being forced East and on the road for the duration.
If there were to be a one game summation of that season, the Swarm played it yesterday against the Rochester Knighthawks.
The Swarm were shutout in the first quarter, falling behind 3-0 and struggling to get anything going. In the second, they put up five goals and went into the half tied up. The game started to slip away in the third, but the Swarm stayed close. Then, in the fourth, the Swarm turned on the jets and cruised out to their first lead.
When they scored what looked to be a goal that would have put them up 10-7, the refs saw fit to interpret a crease violation rule very loosely and wipe it off the board. Moments later, the Knighthawks would score, and rather than be up three, the Swarm lead was cut to just one. After that, the shift was on, and the Knighthawks out their foot on the gas and would up defeating the Swarm 12-10.
Callum Crawford finished his acting captaincy with eight points (2G, 6A), and Ryan benesch added seven of his own (3G, 4A). Kiel Matisz and Shayne Jackson both scored, but did not seem to have the leeway they are normally given, which cost the Swarm dearly. In a change of fates, it was the Knighthawks' balanced attack that killed the Swarm. Seven Knighthawks scored, with Johnny Powless and Craig Point both putting in a hat trick or better.
Matt Vinc lived up to all of the hype surrounding his game, and Tyler Carlson did his best to hang with the best in the business, but the Kinghthawks' defense was simply too much, and the momentum switch at the end crushed the Swarm's hope of a completed comeback and a first ever visit to the Champions Cup.
With that, the Swarm 2013 season comes to an end, and the focus shifts to the offseason. Via the shrewd trades by John Arlotta, and finishing position of the Swarm themselves, the team holds the top two overall picks in the 2013 draft, as well as two other first round picks. This, to go with the four first rounders from this season, and a veteran core. This Swarm team is the most exciting thing in Minnesota right now, and will be very good for a long time.
The sting is new, and the wound is fresh. The players and organization are justifiably disappointed, but when the pain fades, they will know they took another big step toward success.
If you still are not on board with this team, you're denying yourself a great sports story. It all starts again this fall. Be there.