The Minnesota Swarm (4-7) host the Philadelphia Wings (5-5) at Xcel Energy Center on Friday at 7:30pm ET. (Photo: Larry Palumbo)
The Minnesota Swarm (4-7) welcome a familiar face to town on Friday when they face forward Kevin Ross and the Philadelphia Wings (5-5) at Xcel Energy Center at 8:30 p.m. ET. Watch the game live on YouTube via The Lacrosse Network.
Angus Dineley will get the start in net for the Wings for his first NLL game action while starter Brandon Miller serves a one-game suspension stemming from a third-man in on a fight incident.
The game marks the first return of Ross since he was traded to the Wings this past offseason after spending four seasons in Minnesota and recorded 59 points (28+31) with the Swarm last season.
“Definitely a game I’ve had circled on my calendar,” Ross said. “It’s a game you look forward to. You look forward to seeing them again and going to battle against them. At the same time, you want to treat it like any other game. I don’t think getting motivated is going to be too much of a problem this weekend.”
Ross has provided an offensive threat to the left side of Philadelphia’s offense.
“We’ve been able to revamp that whole side of our offense,” said Wings assistant general manager Jimmy Butler. “His leadership, his floor sense and really helping some of the other guys along. We’ve been pleased to death with Kevin and what he’s brought to this team from a mental standpoint. Kevin’s one of those guys that has a settling effect on all of the players out there.”
The Swarm hope to build off their 12-5 victory over the Washington Stealth two weekends ago as both the Wings and Swarm are coming off bye weeks.
“We just took a heck of a lot more time on the smaller details and got back to what we would call ‘Swarm ball,’” said Minnesota’s head coach Joe Sullivan. “We’ve let everybody get their feet underneath them. We haven’t asked anybody to do too much. We’re in good shape to get going.”
The Swarm have won three straight meetings with Philadelphia, including a two-game sweep last season. Minnesota doesn’t expect much from past contests to carry over to Friday.
“They’re different now, just like we are,” Sullivan said. “I would expect we’re going to have to come out and play them tough and limit some of the offensive opportunities we give their offensive players.”
A good start to the game will be crucial for Minnesota.
“(Philadelphia’s) young, they’re energetic, they’re big, they’re athletic,” Sullivan said. “We’re going to have to match their energy early on in the game and play our game. Hopefully we can dictate where the play goes from there.”
Philadelphia can clinch a playoff spot by winning both games this weekend. Despite their opponents' combined record of 8-15 in 2013, the Wings have their own concerns with both health and personnel.
Butler confirmed the return of captain Brodie Merrill from a head injury, as well as forward Brendan Mundorf, who will make his season debut.
The Wings last played in Week #11, dropping a 13-8 decision at home to Toronto. According to Butler, the loss was frustrating, but the timing of the bye weekend came at the right time.
“Toronto was a tough loss; we thought we had some momentum coming into that game. It was nice to have the weekend off, with the younger team we have this year," he said. “With Brodie [Merrill] getting to heal, the other players really look up to his leadership, and I think we saw the effects of not having him in the lineup against Toronto.”