The Minnesota Swarm (3-4) opened their home-and-home series with the Edmonton Rush (3-5) with a hard-earned 13-8 road win, their first victory of the season away from home, at Rexall Place on Friday night.
“They were hooting and hollering on our floor and that’s unacceptable," said Rush GM and head coach Derek Keenan. "We’ve got to be ready on Sunday.”
For the Swarm, there was some redemption in beating the team that had ousted them from last year's playoffs in the West Division Final.
"That game last year was just an off night," Crawford said. "Those happen, it just happened at the worst possible time. We wanted to show that we could play with these guys. They are just as good if not better than they were last year. We were able to take it to them tonight and it felt pretty good.”
Swarm rookie Kiel Matisz, who won his second Rookie of the Week award in 2013 last weekend, scored a hat trick and opened the scoring off a nifty backhand pass from teammate Callum Crawford.
Minnesota transition player Jordan MacIntosh recorded six points (3+3) while Ryan Benesch had seven points (1+6) in the win. Crawford recorded a game-high nine points (2+7) in his return from a hamstring injury, but Minnesota’s captain Andrew Suitor suffered a lower-body injury early in the contest and did not return.
Edmonton led 4-2 after the first quarter, but Minnesota answered in the second quarter for a 6-6 halftime tie. The Swarm outscored the Rush 3-1 in the third before running away with the game late with two goals in the final two minutes.
Swarm goalie Evan Kirk was pulled in the first quarter for Tyler Carlson after Edmonton went up 4-2, but Kirk returned to start the second quarter and finished with 42 saves on 50 shots.
“He's one of those goalies, he’s real quick," said Rush forward Corey Small. "It seemed like we had him on those first couple shots. He’s been in the league for a year now and he’s a good goalie."
Rush rookie Mark Matthews, the NLL’s leading goal scorer, was contained by the Swarm’s defense and held to just one goal on 14 shots. Small (3+2) and Cory Conway (1+4) both posted a team-high five points for Edmonton. Rush goalie Aaron Bold made 26 stops on 39 shots in the losing effort.
Edmonton will play their next five games on the road, starting with the rematch at Xcel Energy Center in Minnesota on Sunday at 3 p.m. ET.