The Minnesota Swarm won their third straight game, defeating the Philadelphia Wings 15-10 on Saturday night at the Xcel Energy Center.
The win, combined with Edmonton’s loss to Calgary, clinched third place in the West Division for the Swarm (8-7). Following next Saturday’s regular-season finale with the Mammoth, Minnesota and Colorado will meet in a divisional semifinal game the weekend of May 4 in Denver.
Minnesota head coach Joe Sullivan doesn’t expect the Swarm to play any differently next weekend knowing they will play the Mammoth again in the postseason.
“I don’t think it will affect how we approach the game,” said Sullivan. “We’ll do our homework and get ready for Colorado.”
Minnesota got a huge boost Saturday from Kevin Ross, who finished with a career-best five goals as part of a nine-point game.
“As my career has went along, my role has changed to being a guy that coaches can count on to put the ball in the net. I think tonight I stepped up into that role,” said Ross.
Ross got help from the Swarm’s elite scorers as well. Ryan Benesch had four goals and two assists while Callum Crawford also had nine points (goal, eight assists).
The Swarm know how important Crawford is to the flow of their offense.
“When he has the ball, he usually draws the double-team to him and finds the open man,” said Benesch.
With their winning streak, the Swarm are above .500 for the first time since being 3-2, but there is still some unfinished business.
“(A 9-7 record) was our goal (and) 9-7 gets us in a position where if we win out in the West, and we play the way we can play, and the first team in the East gets knocked out we could possibly hold the Champion’s Cup here this year,” said Sullivan.
The Swarm got off to a rough start, trailing 5-2 less than 10 minutes into the contest. They went on to score 11 of the next 13 goals to take a 13-7 lead into the final quarter.
“The guys just don’t quit,” said Sullivan. “These guys pick each other up all the time. They pick each other up on the bench and they pick each other up in the room. 5-2 is a tough start obviously, but the guys battled through.”
Rookie Evan Kirk stopped all 12 shots faced in the third quarter and finished with 41 saves on 51 shots for the game.
The Wings (7-8) have now lost four in a row. They came into this game needing to win their final two games to secure the top seed in the East.
“It’s very disappointing. That’s a game we needed to win. We want to host playoff games and that’s a game you need to win to host playoff games,” said Wings head coach and general manager Johnny Mouradian.
The loss spoiled a stellar performance from Dan Dawson, who netted five goals with an assist, giving him 100 points for the season.
“Dan played really well,” said Mouradian. “Out of 10 goals he was involved in six. That’s where we need Dan to play. But we have other guys that need to contribute on the offensive door as well.”
The Wings now need a win over Rochester on April 28, the final night of the regular season, or they will open the playoffs on the road. They can still win the East with a win and a Toronto loss to Edmonton.