As the few of you who pay attention to the goings on here at Hockey Wilderness already know, HW is not the only place you can find my work, nor is hockey the only sport I am involved with covering. Through the regional hub for Minnesota sports, known by the ultimately creative name SBNation Minnesota, I have the chance to cover sports not normally in the wheelhouse of the Hockey Wilderness community.
That said, I have been covering the Minnesota Swarm for the second half of their season, and for anyone out in the community with an open mind, I really think you would enjoy the team and the style of lacrosse they play. Besides, they're the only team in the playoffs in the state, so maybe you should give them the benefit of the doubt.
Make the jump to learn a bit about your Minnesota Swarm. Or, simply skip this post and wait until tomorrow for more Wild season grades. I recommend making the jump.
For the uninitiated, indoor lacrosse is a high speed, high intensity sport that makes MMA fighting look like the annual meeting of the Pacifist Non-Aggressor's Association. This is a physical game, it is a fast game, and is a game very well suited to hockey fans.
I had never been to a Swarm game before this season, despite them being around since the NHL lockout. I am what some refer to as a "hockey snob." I do not like baseball, I'm not a football fan, NASCAR makes me ill, golf puts me to sleep, and there are no other sports that I would have cared to admit exist.
Then I went to cover my first National Lacrosse League game. It took about three minutes, and I was hooked. This game is intense, and it fits the hockey mind so well, it is ridiculous. Of course, some of the rules are different, but the concept is the same. Pass the ball, get an open shot, and bury it. The difference is that the entire time you are trying to do so, you are being smacked about the head and neck with a lacrosse stick.
Without going into the patronizing "Here's how lacrosse works," I want you all to take a moment and consider coming down to your favorite building in the world, the Xcel Energy Center, and take in a Swarm game this Saturday. Why, you ask, this week and not next week?
Well, there may not be a next week. You see, unlike the Wild, the Vikings, the Wolves, and the Gophers, the Swarm have made the playoffs, and host the first game in their single elimination playoff this weekend. I know the people who visit this site are mostly Wild fans, so let me explain what a playoff is...
I kid, I kid.
For now, what you need to know is that the Swarm, from the ownership group to the players, are 100% genuine people who live and die for their fans. There are no multi-million dollar contracts, no pompous prima donnas. The players work all week, like the rest of us, and then become professional lacrosse players. These are real people, accessible and light hearted.
Everywhere except the field.
Asked about the upcoming game, Swarm co-owner Andy Arlotta said:
This is for the fans. This was our mission, our goal, to get this home play off game, to be able to provide that for the fans. Our number one goal is to give our fans a good product, and good entertainment. In only our third year [of owning the Swarm], having a home playoff game is... it means the world to us. It makes our fans happy. As far as the importance of a home playoff game, it is very important.
One thing I keep talking to the management team about, as a franchise, we are at a place we have never been before. We have some momentum, we have put together a great product, and we've put together a great fan base. We're at a part in the history of this franchise that is has never reached before.
Keep in mind that hosting an NLL playoff game means the owners have to pay for the other team to travel, and they also pay a fee to the league to host it. This isn't a money making proposition. This is a fan-centric proposition. The owners believe the fans deserve to see a playoff game, and put together team to make that happen.
That team includes league scoring champion Ryan Benesch. Let me say that again for my fellow Wild fans. League scoring champion. I know those words do not often get arranged in quite that order on this site very often. Take a moment to absorb it.
Moving on, you have the chance to watch a game unlike anything you have seen before. No, I don't work for the team. No, I don't get a paycheck or cash if you show up. Truly, I don't care if you show up or not. I simply am presenting you with the opportunity to attend something unique, something highly entertaining, and something I honestly believe you will enjoy.
Lacrosse is the fastest growing sport in the United States. It is no longer an east-coast elite sport, either. Where I live, softball registrations are down. The director of parks and rec told me that is due to their lacrosse program. Notre Dame was in the finals in the NCAA tournament, another sign things are changing. Arlotta also told me that Minnesota has the tenth highest population of lacrosse players in the country, and that the Mid-West is one of USA Lacrosse's hot spots right now.
Do with the information as you will. Again, I simply wanted to present to you the experience I have had in covering the game. If you love hockey as much as I think all of you love hockey, you owe it to yourself to check out the Swarm. It will make sense why as soon as you watch a game. Trust me on this. I'm never wrong. Ever.
Don't want to spring $24 for a ticket ($24 for a playoff ticket? REALLY?), you can WIN them over at SBNation Minnesota