Minnesota Swarm 12 - 5 Washington Stealth
For awhile there, the Washington Stealth had to be feeling pretty good about themselves. They had come into the Hive on Hive Cares night, the home team decked out in one of a kind green jerseys, and the crowd amped up to celebrate, and the Stealth had scored first, and scored quickly. By the end of the half, the team had to be wondering if they were ever going to score again.
The Swarm held the Stealth to just two goals on the first half, as goalie Tyler Carlson put on a clinic and the Swarm defense kept the Stealth on the perimeter, unable to get in close and get Carlson moving. At the same time, the Swarm were scoring in bunches, putting up seven in the half, and individual players were setting team records. More importantly, the team pulled out a win against the top team in the West and pulled themselves back out of the gutter.
The second half was more of the same, as the Swarm added five more, and held the Stealth to just three. The team's defense held Rhys Duch to just four points (2 G, 2A) and Athan Iannucci to just one assist. Shutting down or containing either player would be an accomplishment. To hold the pair to five points is something that will result in Carlson getting serious consideration for defensive player of the week, if not the month.
Acting captain Callum Crawford, who scored his 100 goal, 200th assists, and 300th point in a Swarm jersey, as well as breaking the Swarm team record for assists (formerly held by Sean Pollock), all in his 100th career game, said that this was a "full 60" effort. That sentiment was echoed by Ryan Benesch who set the team record for goals at 132, also formerly held by Pollock. Benesch joked that after feeding Crawford a couple times and Crawford shooting wide, he told Crawford to "pass it to me and let me do the shooting."
The mutual respect between the two players was evident, as both set aside personal glory to put focus on the accomplishments of the other, and express more pride in the win than the accomplishments. Coach Joe Sullivan called the pair "great players" and "All-Stars in the league."
After three straight losses without captain Andrew Suitor, the team was visibly, and audibly, excited to have finally shown they can win without Suitor on the field. Sullivan noted that Suitor still travels with the team and is "like our mascot, only much louder." Crawford said, "I'm only wearing a C on my jersey. He's still our captain." He added that the win "got the monkey off their back." When asked if it was a turning point for the team, Carlson said, "Yes. Absolutely."
There was certainly a lot to take in from this one. Goals, defense, records, monkeys... The Minnesota Swarm looked like the Minnesota Swarm again, something they desperately needed. They are now out of the gutter with five games left to play. As Crawford said, "It's not how you start, it's how you finish," and the Swarm can still send a message to the league that they are not an easy mark.
That started last night.
Next up are the Philadelphia Wings on March 29th. Rest up, Swarm fans. It's about to get crazy.