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Swarm's Crawford hopes to return to action this weekend

02/05/2013, 11:30am EST
By Jace Frederick, Swarm beat writer for NLL.com

Minnesota's offense struggled without leading scorer from 2012

Minnesota Swarm forward Callum Crawford's return from injury should help the team get back on track. (Photo: Scott Pierson)

The Minnesota Swarm scored just nine goals on 52 shots in their 15-9 road loss to the Colorado Mammoth this past weekend. Swarm head coach Joe Sullivan said much of the offense's ineffectiveness was due to the absence of forward Callum Crawford, their leading scorer from 2012, who missed Saturday’s game with a hamstring injury.

“I’ll attribute probably 90 percent of it to [the loss of Crawford],” Sullivan said. “He’s a great player. One of the toughest guys in the league to check. He’s got a heck of a dynamic where he can go inside and outside or he can shoot the ball. He brings a ton.”

Crawford, who hadn’t missed a game since 2009 and currently ranks third on the team with 16 points (5+11) in three games this season, struggled to watch his teammates falter.

“It’s tough,” Crawford said. “I haven’t missed a game in a long time. It’s tough to be a player and watch the guys that you battle with all year long out there and you can’t do anything to help it. It was a tough game for everybody top to bottom. We just didn’t show up with our best foot forward and it showed.”

However, Crawford is optimistic that he will be able to return to the field on Friday when the Swarm host the Toronto Rock at 8:30 pm ET at Xcel Energy Center.

“I’m going to give it a go this weekend and see how it feels in practice,” he said. “Obviously the team doctors will decide whether I can play or not, but I’m feeling much better and hopefully I can get back out there with the guys.”

Crawford led Minnesota in points (83) and assists last season (58) and acts as a key distributor for the Swarm's offense, in addition to scoring on his own when the opportunity presents itself.

“I just play and take what’s given to me,” Crawford said. “We have so many talented goal scorers on the team that I don’t feel that I have to be the one to score the goals because a lot of these young guys, and especially Ryan Benesch, can put the ball in the back of the net. I’d put [Benesch] up as the best goal scorer, and potentially best shooter, in the league.

“They find themselves open and I see the play develop and get them the ball which is why my name is associated with a lot of their goals, but they do all the work of getting open."

Sullivan expects the offense to round back into form with the return of one of their top weapons.

“He’s going to be back in the lineup this weekend, so we’ll see our production go back up,” Sullivan said. “He draws the best checker, for sure, and he steps up a lot. He sees the floor as well as anybody. What he brings is an awful lot for our offense.”

Crawford looks to help Minnesota get back on track. With a 1-3 record so far in 2013, the Swarm have struggled to live up to their lofty preseason expectations, making Friday’s battle all the more pivotal.

“It’s huge,” Crawford said. “Every game in this league is huge, especially in the position we’ve put ourselves in. The 1-3 record doesn’t really dictate what we’ve been doing out there, with the exception of last weekend. We’ve put ourselves in position to win every game. I don’t think there’s any need to hit a panic button or anything.

"Our team’s a young team. We’ve got a lot of ability all over the floor. All we need to do is play our game, each one of us take care of our jobs out there and the wins will come. I think we’ll rebound really well after last weekend.”

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