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Xcellence: Rush improve to 7-0 with 14-9 road win over Swarm

02/15/2014, 9:30pm EST
By Swarm beat writer Maria Jollie for NLL.com

Edmonton just third NLL team to start season with seven-straight wins

The Edmonton Rush (7-0) became just the third team in league history to open a season with seven-straight wins with a 14-9 road victory over the Minnesota Swarm (1-6) in front of a crowd of 7,195 at Xcel Energy Center on Saturday evening. The Rush opened the game with three unanswered goals and never looked back.

The only other teams that have started a season 7-0 are the 1993 and 1996 Buffalo Bandits. Both teams went on to win the championship in those respective years.

The Rush took charge of the game right away and their defense demanded every last ounce of effort from the Swarm team.

“That was the defense that we were expecting to see tonight,” said Swarm assistant coach Bobby Keast. “They haven’t lost a game for a reason and they showed it.”

“I think it always starts with our defense,” said Edmonton general manager and head coach Derek Keenan. “They’re a pretty dominant group.”

Rooting the Edmonton defense was Goalie Aaron Bold with 37 saves on 46 shots - a strong factor in the Rush victory.

“Bold was solid,” said Keenan. “He’s been outstanding all year, he’s taken it to another level.”

The second quarter saw more penalties than goals. Edmonton was able to notch two, thanks to Jarrett Davis (1-1) and former Swarm player Nik Bilic (1-2). Minnesota came up empty in the goal department but committed two of the three fouls of the quarter.

“I thought we ran the floor extremely well tonight,” said Keenan. “I thought we did some nice things on offense.”

The game started to pick up again in the third quarter with a dominating four-goal streak from Edmonton, including two by Jeremy Thompson (3-1). The Swarm were unable to answer until Logan Schuss (2-1) was able to connect with a power play goal. The glory was soon lost as the Rush’s Chris Corbeil (1-0) scored to end the quarter with a score of Edmonton 12, Minnesota 4.

Despite an inspiring fourth quarter performance of outscoring the Rush 5-2, the Swarm were unable to turn the game their way.

“We got a little bit loose,” said Keenan. “They started to wear us out a little bit there.”

Charged with a surge of athleticism, Callum Crawford (2-6) lead the fourth quarter charge with a notch that marked his 175th career goal. Jordan MacIntosh (3-2) contributed to the run by completing his hat trick.

“Callum actually took the offense on his shoulders and said ‘come on boys let gets this done’,” said Keast. “And you know what, I think that inspired others to play just as hard.”

The energy perpetuated to narrow the gap and leave the final score 14-9.

The Rush outshot the Swarm by just one, with a total of 47 shots for Edmonton and 46 for Minnesota. A positive note for the Swarm is the four goals they produced on six of their power plays, while holding Edmonton to zero of their six power play attempts. But it will take more than a bit of positive to win in the National Lacrosse League and Minnesota is well aware.

“With a young group you gotta try to find that groove and they just haven’t found that groove yet,” said Keast. “It’s gotta be a bigger step, it can’t be baby steps anymore.”

“The only solution is in our dressing room right now,” said Swarm forward Callum Crawford. “We’re hoping to find that solution.”

Three Stars of the Game as selected by the media:

1) Aaron Bold
2) Callum Crawford
3) Jeremy Thompson

Both Minnesota and Edmonton will go on to face Toronto. The Swarm will visit the Air Canada Centre on Saturday, February 22nd at 7 p.m. ET and the Rush will enjoy a week off before hosting the Rock on Friday, February 28th at 9:30 p.m. ET.

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