Minnesota Swarm (2-3) host the Calgary Roughnecks (4-3) at Xcel Energy Center on Saturday at 7 p.m. ET. (Photo: Brad Watson)
The Minnesota Swarm (2-3) will host the Calgary Roughnecks (4-3) at Xcel Energy Center on Saturday night at 7 p.m. ET. Watch the game live on YouTube via The Lacrosse Network.
The Roughnecks snapped a four-game winning streak with a 17-12 loss to the Toronto Rock on Friday. As the Swarm were idle, Calgary’s head coach Curt Malawsky expects Minnesota to be ready.
“They’re going to be very well prepared,” he said. “They’re going to be able to sit back and watch our game and see what we did the night before, which will be an advantage to them.”
Despite the matchup between the division leaders on Friday night, the Roughnecks are still focused on the second leg of their back-to-back weekend.
“By no means does anybody look by Minnesota anymore,” Malawsky said. “They have earned their respect. We’re definitely gonna have our hands full.”
“I don’t think I’d look past Minnesota ever,” said Roughnecks transition player Geoff Snider. “They are very dangerous and they can make you pay on the scoreboard and defensively. Those guys are a confident group and certainly aren’t afraid to play an up-tempo game.”
Swarm head coach Joe Sullivan said that getting a win against the West Division-leading Roughnecks will be quite the challenge.
“When I look at everything [Calgary’s] got going on, their defense is playing real solid,” he said. “[Mike] Poulin’s playing real great, coming up with big saves at opportune times, and their offense is clicking.”
The Swarm are playing well themselves as Minnesota is coming off of a 13-12 overtime victory over Toronto last Friday.
“Sitting where we were and getting the outcome we did was great,” Sullivan said. “I think guys responded well. I don’t think we gripped the sticks too tight. We got ourselves in a good situation early in the game like we’d been doing and were able to build some character and follow that right through into overtime.”
Minnesota’s 5-on-5 offense struggled in the victory as Swarm forwards accounted for just one of the team’s nine goals through the first three quarters.
“I don’t expect that to carry over to this weekend at all,” said Minnesota forward Callum Crawford. “We’ve got a lot of really good young guys who are going to be fired up after struggling a little bit this weekend. I think a lot of guys will pick it up on the front end and answer pretty well.”
A big part of the Swarm's offense is supplied by forward Ryan Benesch, who was held without a goal last Friday for the first time since Feb. 19, 2011, but still contributed four assists.
“He’s one of our young leaders,” Sullivan said. “The ball goes through him an awful lot and there’s no hiding that. We’re trying to build around him, between himself and Callum. In order to be better, more competitive and consistent we need to develop guys around him. His patience and willingness to help guys around him essentially makes him more valuable on and off the floor.”
Benesch and the rest of the Swarm offense will have to be prepared to face either of Calgary’s goaltenders as Poulin is expected to start on Friday but plans for Saturday are still up in the air.
“We’re ready to put [Frank Scigliano] in at anytime, anywhere in any game,” Malawsky said. “We have a lot of confidence with Frank. What we do on Saturday night might be predicated on how Friday night’s game goes, but at this point we’re looking at Scigliano.”
Minnesota’s transition game, which has taken off with their influx of young talent, will be a focal point on Saturday night.
“For years, we have been talking about Minnesota’s systems and the way they play and the way they utilize their good young talent,” Malawsky said. “Their transition game may be second-to-none in this league.”