MINNESOTA SWARM HOST WEST DIVISION FINALS THIS SATURDAY AT XCEL ENERGY CENTER
The winner of Saturday’s Swarm-Rush contest advances to the Champion’s Cup next weekend
SAINT PAUL, Minn. – After collecting its first ever playoff victory last weekend, the No. 3 Minnesota Swarm (10-7) returns to action this weekend when it hosts the No. 4 Edmonton Rush (7-10) in the West Division FinalsSaturday, May 12 on Treasure Island Field at 8:30 p.m. CT. Minnesota has won five straight games dating back to April 6 and will play in front of a nationally televised audience on CBS Sports Network for the third consecutive week.
In the West Divisional Semifinals, the Swarm defeated the No. 2 Colorado Mammoth (11-6) 14-10 in front of 14,152 fans on the road at Pepsi Center. Forward Ryan Benesch led the Swarm with a playoff career-high seven points (3g, 4a), and goalie Evan Kirk stopped 37 of 47 shots to pick up his first career postseason victory.
“It was a pretty short-lived celebration,” head coach Joe Sullivan said. “It was a great thing, but it wasn’t something I communicated about much beforehand because I didn’t want our team dwelling on what some of our old teams hadn't been able to do. It was more about what we were going to do.”
The winner of the West Division Finals advances to the Champion’s Cup next weekend and meets either the No. 1 Toronto Rock (10-7) or No. 2 Rochester Knighthawks (8-9) from the East Division. If both Minnesota and Rochester win, the Swarm will host the Champion’s Cup next Sunday, May 20 at 1 p.m. CT on CBS Sports Network.
Edmonton also pulled off a thrilling road playoff victory in the first round of the playoffs, defeating the No. 1 Calgary Roughnecks (12-5) 19-11. To many around the lacrosse world, this Saturday’s matchup comes as a surprise as the top two seeds in the NLL playoffs had to be eliminated in the process.
“We’re looking at two teams that are on hot streaks, and two teams that have really turned their seasons around,” said Sullivan about Minnesota and Edmonton.
The Swarm split the regular season series 1-1 with the Rush and both games ended in overtime victories for the respective home team. Minnesota handed the Rush a 10-9 overtime loss back on Feb. 10 at Xcel Energy Center in the second longest game in NLL history (72 minutes, 23 seconds). Most recently, the Rush defeated the Swarm at Rexall Place 9-8 in OT on March 31. In the loss, Kirk held Edmonton scoreless for over 37 minutes of gametime before giving up the game-winner goal in overtime.
“Those were probably about as tight of games as you’re ever going to find in lacrosse,” Sullivan said. “In both games, the other team had to adapt to get back in the game. Physical, fast, tight-checking, probably a low scoring game is what I think we’re going to see this weekend.”
Saturday’s meeting has big implications for both clubs, as the winner will advance to their first ever Champion’s Cup. Minnesota will get the opportunity to do so in front of its home crowd where it finished 6-2 in the regular season, which tied a franchise record.
“It’s huge,” Sullivan said. “We went to Colorado and played in front of 14,000 fans and it was incredibly loud. We hope to be able to do the same this week. The chance to play in such a monumental game is big for the Swarm franchise.”
One of the keys to last weekend’s victory was the fact that the Swarm had nine players tally goals. Minnesota also finished 5-for-7 on the power play against Colorado.
“That’s going to be a key to our success," Sullivan said. “We can’t have one or two guys scoring, but we have to move that ball around and share the offensive duties.”
The all-time regular season series between Minnesota and Edmonton is tied 4-4. This is the first ever playoff meeting between the two teams. Minnesota is 9-0 when leading after three quarters this year.
Earlier this week, the NLL announced Minnesota's John Arlotta as the General Manager of the Year and Joe Sullivan as the Head Coach of the Year. The Swarm’s roster featured a league-high 12 rookies this season and was the league’s youngest team.
Playoff tickets can be purchased online by visiting ticketmaster.com and are also available over the phone by calling 1-888-MN-SWARM. Ticket prices will remain the same as regular season tickets and start as low as $20. The Swarm is offering a Fishing Widows discount where wives who are losing their husbands to the fishing opener this weekend can purchase discounted playoff tickets. Visit mnswarm.com for more info.
Fans heading out to this Saturday's game can enjoy a pre-game party at Iron Range Grill from 7 to 8 p.m. located on the main concourse level of Xcel Energy Center. KFAN 100.3 FM's Henry Lake and Joe Nelson will be on hand to broadcast a LIVE one-hour pre-game show, which will feature Swarm guests. The Iron Range Grill is located at Gate 4 and behind Section 119.
To find out what channel CBS Sports Network is shown on in your area, visithttp://www.cbssportsnetwork.com/channelfinder
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