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Rookie Kirk lifts Minnesota to weekend sweep

02/12/2012, 2:16pm EST
By Jace Frederick, Minnesota Swarm beat writer for NLL.com

Stops 46 shots in NLL debut, beats Rochester 9-6


Minnesota completed a weekend sweep with a 9-6 win over Rochester on Sunday. (Photo Credit: Scott Pierson)

The Minnesota Swarm completed a much-needed weekend sweep at home thanks to their other rookie goaltender.

The Swarm defeated the Rochester Knighthawks 9-6 at the Xcel Energy Center on Sunday behind a stellar outing from Evan Kirk in his pro indoor debut.

The sixth overall pick in the 2011 NLL Entry Draft got the start over fellow rookie Tyler Carlson, who defeated Edmonton in overtime on Friday to finish the second-longest game in NLL history.

“It’s awesome. I’m jacked up,” Kirk said on the field following his first win.

One of Kirk’s best saves came when he robbed Chris Schiller on a breakaway with 3:37 to play in the first half. Kirk also denied Mike Accursi with a sliding stop less than four minutes in the third quarter.

“It was incredible. Talk about making a statement,” Minnesota captain Andrew Suitor said. “The kid is for real and I think he showed it tonight.”

Suitor, one of four Swarm players named last week to play in the All-Star game, had a big role in Sunday’s victory. He scored twice, drew an assist and played tight defense on Rochester star Cody Jamieson.

“He is an unbelievable lacrosse player, so the opportunity to get to play against him was fun. The kid battles,” Suitor said.

The Swarm (3-2) limited Jamieson to just two goals - a sharp drop from the three goals and six assists he compiled in the Knighthawks’ 16-14 win over Minnesota on Feb. 4.

Coach Mike Lines’ team allowed just 15 goals in the wins this weekend.

“Our defense, in general this weekend, did a great job. We shut the Knighthawks down,” he said. “We have made some adjustments, (defensive) coach Joe Sullivan did a great job. We prepared them well, and the results are what we’ve seen.”

That helped make Kirk’s debut easy.

“They were phenomenal. All their work just cut down (the angles) for me to make those easy saves,” Kirk said.

Does this mean a goaltending controversy is brewing in the Twin Cities? Lines didn’t indicate there was one.

“It’s a great problem to have,” he said.

The loss was the fourth in five games for Rochester (2-4), which remained in a tie with Buffalo for third in the East Division. Rookie Johnny Powless matched Jamieson with two goals to lead the club.

“It’s very frustrating,” Knighthawks coach Mike Hasen said. “When you only get two offensive guys scoring goals, that’s very frustrating. We didn’t shoot well.”

One bright spot for Rochester was Matt Vinc, who had a solid game with 35 saves.

“That’s the way (Vinc) plays,” Hasen said. “He is the reason why we’re in games and tonight is no different.”

Minnesota will try to move to 4-0 at home when they welcome unbeaten Colorado to St. Paul on Saturday night. Suitor said the team already has that game on their minds.

“We’ve got one heck of a team coming in here next week in Colorado,” Suitor said. “They put a ‘shalanking’ to us there in their barn. We’re looking forward to the opportunity to put another home victory together.

Minnesota opened the 2012 season with a 20-14 loss on Jan. 14 in Denver.

Rochester will return home to face the Washington Stealth on Saturday night.

 

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