Tyler Hass scored the game-winner as the Minnesota Swarm (2-3) earned a hard-fought 13-12 overtime win at home over the Toronto Rock on Friday night at Xcel Energy Center. (Photo: Scott Pierson)
Tyler Hass scored the game-winner, his third goal of the night, 4:30 into overtime on a breakaway as the Minnesota Swarm (2-3) beat the visiting Toronto Rock (5-2) with a thrilling 13-12 win at Xcel Energy Center on Friday night.
“I scored two different ways on [Rose],” Hass said. “As soon as I was running, I was hoping [the defenseman] was real close to me because I knew Rose would be more likely to bite with a defender right on my back.”
The transition winner provided a fitting ending for a Swarm team that did much of its offensive damage outside of its traditional sets.
“That’s kind of what we built our team around is the transition offense,” said Swarm transition player Andrew Watt. “We’ve been struggling a bit the first four games and then finally tonight we found our groove. It was nice to finally get on board, everybody, and help out the offense a bit.”
The Swarm offense needed the help Friday as high-scoring forwards Ryan Benesch and Callum Crawford were both held goalless.
“If there was one area I thought we were good at, it was [the 5-on-5 defense],” Rock head coach Troy Cordingley said. “We were pretty stellar. There’s not too many games where Ryan Benesch is not going to score a goal.”
However, other goal scorers stepped up for Minnesota, especially late in the game. Swarm forwards Corbyn Tao and Jay Card each had two goals, and scored three of the team’s final four tallies in regulation. The two combined for just one goal over the Swarm’s previous four games.
“Early in the season those two struggled,” said Swarm assistant coach Bobby Keast. “We told them that we had faith in them and that we’re going to keep on going with them until they broke out of this and tonight they did.”
The Rock offense had a difficult time breaking through Minnesota’s man-to-man defense all night. Toronto was held scoreless for over 13 minutes during a span in the third quarter.
“I thought [Minnesota] played solid defensively the whole game,” said Rock forward Garrett Billings. “Our offense wasn’t good enough all night. We’ve got to be more prepared. We can’t use that as an excuse that they play man-to-man defense and we can’t beat that when you’ve been playing against it your whole life.”
Swarm goaltender Tyler Carlson did not make things any easier. Carlson stopped 35 of the 47 shots he faced, including three key stops in overtime.
“Carlson played unbelievable tonight,” Keast said. “He’s so solid in net.”
Toronto’s power play offense generated most of the offense for the Rock throughout the night, capitalizing on three of its four man-advantage opportunities.
“We feel pretty comfortable as a unit,” Billings said. “When the ball flies like that it usually ends up in the back of the net. It was one of the only bright points of the night for us offensively.”
The Swarm hope the victory over the team with the NLL’s best record serves as a turnaround point after a disappointing start.
“It’s big for the confidence,” Watt said. “Especially with the young group of guys we have. I think it just takes a step for us in the right direction. It’s a long season and you’ve got to learn how to win like this. 2-3 is a lot better than 1-4.”