Ten members of the Swarm and Bandits were ejected for fighting Saturday. (Photo Credit: Scott Pierson)
Records were set, punches thrown and cowbells were ringing throughout the game between the Minnesota Swarm and the Buffalo Bandits at the Xcel Energy Centre on Saturday night.
But after all the dust had settled from 149 penalty minutes and 10 game misconducts, it was the Swarm that came out with a 19-11 victory in their home opener.
Minnesota got balanced scoring across the board as Ryan Benesch, Andrew Suitor, Kevin Ross, and Corbyn Tao all netted hat tricks.
“We’ve tried to preach that we’re not going to have one or two guys that are going to win us or lose us games. In order for us to be successful we need contributions from everybody,” Minnesota coach Mike Lines said.
The Swarm led from start to finish, but an encouraging sign was the solid performance by the defense, a unit that had major concerns about their youth and inexperience heading into the season.
Lines noted he improvement on the back end since the Swarm up 20 goals in a season-opening loss to Colorado two weeks earlier.
“We had a really good practice last night. The guys have been working really hard. They learned a lot over the last week,” he said.
Jordan MacIntosh was an unsung hero for Minnesota (1-1) with a goal and three assists. He also scooped up 19 loose balls.
“I want to get the ball to our goal scorers, Ryan Benesch, Callum, Jay Card, and Corbin had another great game. Those guys are going to bury the ball and if I can set them up then that’s great,” the fourth overall pick in the 2011 NLL Entry Draft said.
The Bandits (2-2) lost their seocnd game of the weekend after falling 13-10 to Philadelphia on Friday. Buffalo never led Saturday, was outscored 7-0 in the third quarter and surrendered nine power-play goals on 13 chances.
“Our penalty kill was brutal, we gave up nine goals and, surprisingly, we lost by nine goals,” Bandits coach Darris Kilgour said.
One of the lone bright spots of the game for Buffalo was forward Chad Culp, who netted his first hat trick of the 2012 campaign to push his season total to 12 goals.
There were two defining moments in this game and Minnesota captain Andrew Suitor played a vital role in both. The first was a field-length heave that went into an empty Buffalo net as the first-quarter clock ended, setting a new NLL record for longest goal scored.
“Luck. It was just kind of a prayer, I guess. It was a big momentum thing and I’m happy it went in but luck is all I have on that one,” Suitor said.
Suitor was also one of 10 players ejected following game misconducts that were dealt out in the wake of a bench-clearing brawl that took place just before the halftime buzzer sounded.
“I saw one of our guys go down and as soon as something like that happens it’s a chain reaction,” he said. “Certain guys got isolated. They tried to bully us around and we just showed that we’re team tough and we’re going to stand up for each other.”
Rookie goalie Tyler Carlson had a solid NLL debut for the Swarm, stopping 38 of 49 shots and chipping in on the offensive end with five assists.
The Swarm (1-1) will travel to face the Rochester Knighthawks next Saturday night while the Bandits (2-2) return home to play the winless Washington Stealth.