The Minnesota Swarm (2-7) snapped a five-game losing streak with a 15-14 fourth-quarter comeback road win over the Philadelphia Wings (3-7) at Wells Fargo Center on Sunday afternoon.
Down 6-1 early in the game, Minnesota battled back for a much-needed 'W' with resiliency and late heroics.
“Collectively they all believed today,” said Swarm head coach Joe Sullivan. “We didn’t get the start we wanted but the heart and character came through and everyone played for the guy next to them.”
Swarm rookie Logan Schuss scored five goals, including three-straight late in the game, as Minnesota earned their second win of the year in Philly.
“It’s all about what coach Sully has been talking to us about: having faith in each other,” Schuss said. “We know lacrosse is a game of runs and we were going to get our chance and it ended up working out for us.”
Newly re-signed Wings goalie Brandon Miller started in net and was immediately challenged by a strong Swarm offense. However, Miller managed to prove himself worthy of being back on the field early on, with great saves, allowing transition player Joel White to switch the play back onto the Wings offense.
With White passing off the ball to forward Pat Saunders, who brought the ball up into the zone of the Swarm, Saunders was able to assist forward Garrett Thul who scored with a snipe into the top pocket of the Swarm net from the right side, giving Philly the early 1-0 lead.
The Wings continued to power through the defense of the Swarm with a power play goal from forward Jordan Hall off of an assist from forward Kevin Crowley. But Crowley didn’t stop there as he powered in a goal past Swarm goalie Zach Higgins at 7:08 in the first.
However, Philly went on the penalty kill but managed to keep the ball out of their zone, as Hall took on the Swarm defense with a 3-on-1 play. He still managed, though, to get a shot off in front of the net for a goal past the left shoulder of Higgins, with assists going to forward Kyle Buchanan and Crowley.
Minnesota made a goalie change after this, putting in goalie Tyler Carlson to guard the Swarm net.
“It was a game that we should’ve won and we didn’t,” Wings head coach Blane Harrison said. “They were 5 for 5 on their power play, we were 2 for 7 and there’s the difference.”
With a 4-0 lead, the Swarm used their power play advantage to get their first goal of the night scored by forward Logan Schuss with a deep shot in front of the net.
But it was forward Kevin Ross— just back from injury after re-splitting his shoulder in the Wing’s last against the Swarm—who snuck in from the right side to put another goal up on the board for Philly at 9:32 in the first, with an assist from Crowley to make it 5-1.
Crowley continued to be an assistant machine with his pass to Buchanan who dished the ball off to Saunders. Saunders fought his way to the front of the net through the opposing defense to get goal number six for Philly.
“I had no idea I had 10 points,” Crowley said of his post-game stats. “All that’s in my mind is all the pipes that we hit and myself personally. Assists are huge and (they’re) a testament to how the other guys are playing around you, so I’ve got to deliver on the goal scoring now.”
But Swarm’s Brock Sorensen sprinted through the Wings defense on the breakaway, successfully shooting the ball past the gloves of Miller for their second goal of night. Then, just five seconds later, the Swarm caught Philadelphia off guard once again with defender Greg Downing scoring off of a pass from transition player Jordan MacIntosh to make it 6-3. The two goals scored five seconds apart marked a new franchise record for the Swarm, who tallied twice in six seconds last year.
The Wings did end the first quarter on their terms with captain and transition player Brodie Merrill hammering the ball into the net of Minnesota after a pass from transition player CJ Costabile. This goal marked the first time Philadelphia has scored seven goals in the first quarter since April 27, 2008 against the Toronto Rock.
“It’s huge,” Crowley said. “An early start is huge in this game, but they’re never safe and you saw that tonight. They’re a hungry team and we couldn’t keep it up for four quarters and that cost us.”
Minnesota found their way back, though in the second scoring the first goal of the quarter with a power play goal from transition wing Kiel Matisz, assisted by forwards Callum “Showtime” Crawford and Dane Stevens.
But Saunders reignited the spark for Philly’s offense with two consecutive goals, giving him hat trick for the night. The first goal came off of a pass from Buchanan, as Saunders was able to fake out the Swarm defense for a goal, quickly followed by his second that was assisted by Hall and Crowley to make the score 9-4.
About two minutes later the Swarm picked up their intensity to end the second with two goals about two minutes scored by Matisz from Crawford and then on a power play goal by forward Shayne Jackson from MacIntosh to end the second at a score of 9-6.
The Wings came out on fire early in the third with forward Tracey Kelusky, who drove through the defense of Minnesota to score a tough goal, one minute and 17 seconds into the quarter. Then 18 seconds later, Philadelphia put another goal in off the stick of Saunders, scoring his fourth goal of the night.
But Minnesota put a stop to the Philly scoring spree with a quick goal, however, not long after Thul forced another Swarm goalie change with an excellent shot from the restraining line into the net of Carlson. With a pretty evenly shot game, Minnesota kept themselves in the game, working their way through the defense of the Wings for a beautiful behind the net pass from Scott Jones to Crawford who finished it for Swarm goal number 8.
“We had some early success and we get a little complacent,” Harrison said. “They made a good goalie change and he started to play well for them so that can change momentum in a key situation— they did a nice job with that.”
As Minnesota went on the power play, they capitalized on their opportunity, with another goal from Schuss into the net of Miller.
Although Philly continuously dominated on the offense, the Swarm stuck right there with them, ending the second quarter only down by two as Sorensen delivered for his team beating Wings transition player Kyle Sweeney, giving Miller no chance for a save with a limited sight of the ball.
But just 13 seconds into the fourth quarter began the scoring reign of Schuss who couldn’t be stopped by the defense of the Wings.
Schuss made it a one-goal game with his third goal of the game, scoring on a wide open Philly net. It was only minutes later when Schuss scored his fourth goal from Crawford tying up the game. The Swarm took the lead for the first time all night with goal number 13 coming once again from Schuss on a power play goal after an assist from MacIntosh.
However, despite earning a power play, the Wings just couldn’t seem to finish, as Higgins blocked three straight shots from Philadelphia to hold the lead for his team.
But Minnesota yielded another penalty with two seconds left on their previous one and still the Wings couldn’t seem to repeat their scoring history form the previous quarters, with the Swarm barely holding on to their lead.
The Wings continued to be outplayed by the Swarm in the fourth as Minnesota scored another goal despite the original call on the field being ruled as “no goal” due to a crease violation.
Finally the Wings found a way to score in the fourth with a quick transition from Merill over to Crowley who ran through the Swarm defense, scoring his second goal of the night.
The Wings came close to tying it back up but couldn’t hold off the revived offense of the Swarm in the fourth quarter as Scott Jones gave Minnesota a two lead.
Hall fought back to decrease the lead by one, scoring an exciting Philadelphia goal with 44.6 seconds to go in the game.
But the Wings just couldn’t get the lead back of the Swarm who came out to play in the fourth quarter with an incredible offense and phenomenal blocking by Higgins who saved 50 shots for his team, with Miller blocking 58 shots in his first start back in the NLL.
“From a team perspective and obviously on an individual level it’s not where I want to be,” Crowley said. “We try to outwork teams and I think those lapses were what killed us today.”
The critical victory, coming less than 24 hours after Saturday’s loss in Toronto, improves the Swarm to 2-7 on the season. It also clinched the season series 2-1 over Philadelphia, helping Minnesota make up some ground in the East Division. The Swarm now are within a half-game of the Wings for fourth place in the division, while 2.5 back of Toronto for third.
The Wings were sporting special orange and white jerseys in support of the Philadelphia Flyers, sweaters which were auctioned off for charity following the end of the game.
Three Stars of the Game as selected by the media:
1) Logan Schuss
2) Callum Crawford
3) Kevin Crowley