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'X' marks the spot: Bandits visit Swarm seeking playoff berth

03/17/2014, 12:30pm EDT
By Bandits beat writer Alan Rosenhoch & Swarm beat writer Maria Jollie for NLL.com

Buffalo's Benesch returns to Xcel Energy Center vs. Minnesota on Sunday

Minnesota Swarm (2-9) host the Buffalo Bandits (8-3) at Xcel Energy Center for Sunday matinee at 2pm ET. (Photo: Bill Wippert)

The Minnesota Swarm (2-9) seek their first home win of the season as they host the Buffalo Bandits (8-3) this Sunday at Xcel Energy Center at 2 p.m. ET. The Swarm will catch the Bandits in Buffalo’s second game of their road weekend after their loss in Edmonton. Watch the game live on Youtube via The Lacrosse Network.

Last week, the Swarm came close to their first home win of the season but suffered a tough draw in overtime against the Toronto Rock. The resilient team battled until the end but left the hive with a loss in hand.

“We played tough throughout the game,” said Swarm assistant coach Aime Caines. “We had a chance but we came up short.”

In Minnesota’s last visit to Buffalo two weeks back, the Swarm came out strong to maintain the lead going into the fourth quarter. But they couldn’t complete a single goal in the last fifteen minutes and suffered a 12-9 loss.

However, the last time the Bandits visited Swarm turf, things went a little differently. Last season’s dominant Minnesota team took out the Bandits 21-7 in April of last year. So far, the Swarm have not been able to mirror that kind of performance through an entire contest.

Though inconsistency has meddled in each game this season, the Swarm have shown they are capable of putting the pieces together - the completed picture is yet to be seen.

“It’s frustrating when you have a record like this,” said Caines. “I don’t think our record reflects exactly the team we are.”

The team can be expected to reflect the energy and fervor of their home crowd as they enter the Hive on Sunday with something to prove. If any team can emerge from the bottom, it’s this vigorous band of Swarm players.

“We’ve had some tough losses but we’re still trying to keep real positive,” said Caines. “With such a young team, we just really need to keep them positive and motivated.”

With the evidence found in scattered quarters of commanding success in goals, loose balls, saves and nearly fruitful comebacks, Minnesota will prepare for this weekend knowing they are capable. The Bandits will bring all the energy of the top team in the East and the Swarm will strive to show what they are truly made of.

“The attitude in the locker room is we’re not failing and we’re not giving up,” said Caines. “We’re going to compete every night and try to get W’s.”

For the Bandits, they need to have a very short memory following an abysmal showing against the undefeated Edmonton Rush, getting blown out by a score of 14-5 on Friday night.

They should have plenty of motivation against Minnesota, however, as a victory over the Swarm will clinch a playoff berth for the Bandits. After missing the playoffs completely last season, it is nothing short of incredible that new head coach Troy Cordingley has his team in position to punch their post-season ticket in just the twelfth game of the season.

Rochester would also clinch a spot with a Buffalo win over Minnesota.

The loss to Edmonton moved the Bandits out of first place in the East Division, dropping them a half-game behind Rochester. They can pull back into a tie for first with a win on Sunday.

Sunday’s matinee will also mark the return of Bandits forward Ryan Benesch to Minnesota where he played the previous four seasons with the Swarm before the off-season trade that brought him to Buffalo along with Andrew Watt in exchange for a pair of first round draft picks.

“I’m sure it’s going to mean something [to Benesch],” said Bandits assistant coach Rich Kilgour. “Minnesota basically said, for whatever reason, ‘we don’t want you anymore.' So when that happens – you do have a little more incentive against a team that let you go – to let them know maybe it wasn’t the best choice.”

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