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Endangered Mammoth visit Swarm looking to avoid playoff extinction

04/16/2013, 1:00pm EDT
By NLL.com's Mammoth beat writer Nick Salen and Swarm beat writer Jace Frederick

Colorado can clinch postseason spot with a win in finale, Minnesota looks to stay hot

Looking to clinch a playoff spot with a win or some help, the Colorado Mammoth (6-9) visit the Minnesota Swarm (7-8) at Xcel Energy Center on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET for their 2013 NLL regular season finale. (Photo: Jack Dempsey)

Still in control of their postseason destiny, the Colorado Mammoth (6-9) look to clinch a playoff berth when they visit the Minnesota Swarm (7-8) at Xcel Energy Center on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET for their 2013 NLL regular season finale. Watch the game live on YouTube via The Lacrosse Network.

The Mammoth missed out on a chance to secure a playoff spot with their 17-12 loss to the Swarm in Denver last weekend, but the postseason door is still creaked open with the rematch at hand. Colorado can clinch a playoff berth with two scenarios, either with a win or a Buffalo Bandits loss to the Rochester Knighthawks.

According to Mammoth head coach Bob Hamley, the disappointing effort in Week #15 cannot linger if the team doesn’t want to end their season on a sour note as the odd team out.

"We're obviously disappointed on Saturday in front of our own fans,” he said. “But we have to put it in the archives and move forward.”

Colorado stumbled out of the gate early on in the loss and never fully recovered as Minnesota led throughout the game. At times the team seemed to be clicking, other times it was not so pretty, which forward Gavin Prout mentioned earlier this week.

"It was disappointing obviously with the loss,” said Colorado’s team captain. “When you come out flat like that in this particular league, every single team has an opportunity to win in every single game. The parity is unbelievable so you can’t take an entire half off and expect to win the games. We have to put together a full 60-minute game and limit the amount of shifts we take off at any given time this upcoming weekend.”

Although both teams had similar offensive numbers, the Mammoth team failed to perform when they needed it most. One of the bright spots was the play of forward Casey Powell, whom Colorado acquired before the trade deadline, as he posted eight points (4+4) in the losing effort.

“A lot of people were doubting [Powell] earlier in the season,” Hamley said. “Casey still has the footwork to play in this league at a very high level. He’s able to get to the net and still do things that not a whole lot of people can do. We’re thrilled with the way he’s playing.”

Goaltender Tye Belanger, the Defensive Player of the Week coming into last weekend’s game, appeared to be out of his comfort zone after being pulled twice in the first half before Dan Lewis came in relief for the remainder of the game.

"I don’t think it was from a lack of effort, it was more or less a lack of execution on both ends of the floor,” Prout added. “We got down early...it was difficult for us to dig ourselves out of a hole like that. Especially when you play in Colorado and things are magnified that much more with the fan base."

The Swarm have some momentum rolling for them in the final week after punching their postseason ticket with the road win in Mile High. Already in playoff mode, they hope to maintain their roll by finishing the season with a .500 record at 8-8. Key players are expected to make an appearance, but is unclear if the Swarm bench will sit them later in the game.

The Swarm clinched a playoff berth with last week’s win in Colorado, a game that had a playoff-like feel.

“We came out with a lot of energy and we knew there was a lot on the line,” said Minnesota defenseman Alex Crepinsek. “It definitely felt good to get a win and clinch.”

Though the Swarm have solidified a spot in the playoffs, they have plenty to compete for this weekend against their West Division rivals.

“We’re riding high right now and we want to finish this season on a winning note and go into the playoffs on a winning streak,” said Swarm assistant coach Aime Caines. “We’re looking for a win this weekend.”

Minnesota has won four of its last five, playing their best lacrosse of the season, as the Swarm have outscored their opponents by a combined 83-50 over that span.

“It feels like we’re gelling at the right time of the year and things are definitely starting to come together for us a lot better than they were at the beginning of the season,” Crepinsek said. “I feel like we’re definitely starting to peak and get rolling here into playoffs.”

A large factor in the Swarm’s recent success has been transition player Jordan MacIntosh. MacIntosh was named NLL Transition Player of the Week for the third consecutive week, and fifth time this season, for his six point (5+1) performance in last Saturday’s win over the Mammoth.

“Jordan’s been pretty much anywhere on the floor (with) anything we’ve asked him to do,” Caines said. “His face-offs have been unbelievable. He’s got a real hot stick now. He’s on our man-up (unit). He can play defense. We’re happy with his play.”

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