The Minnesota Swarm (4-12) handed the reeling Buffalo Bandits (8-7) their fifth-straight loss with a 10-9 home win before a crowd of 7,088 at Xcel Energy Center on Saturday night. Despite their strong performance, the Swarm will not advance to the playoffs as the Toronto Rock (6-10) clinched their spot with a win over Philadelphia by halftime of the Minnesota game.
“Our guys showed a lot of character, a lot of poise, and it’s a little too late, too soon, with Toronto winning tonight to get us out of the playoffs,” said Swarm head coach Joe Sullivan. “But probably the bigger thing is where we are going. It has gotten a heck of a lot better.”
For the Swarm, the night was a success beyond the win in the form of the fourth annual Hive Cares night where the team sported special edition jerseys. Proceeds raised from the event will benefit the Randy Shaver Cancer Research & Community Fund, an organization that supports the cancer community in Minnesota by funding research, prevention, treatment and other programs relating to the cancer community.
“It’s huge. $60,000 over the 5 years that we have been supporting the program, the fans that come out, the activities they have around the game - tonight was extra special,” said Swarm head coach Joe Sullivan. “Anything we can do locally, the fans are great here, so why wouldn’t we try to help out in any way we could.”
And Minnesota helped the crowd to their feet tonight with their second home win of the season. For Minnesota, Logan Schuss (4+2) proved to be his ‘NLL Rookie of the Month’ self with a hat trick, and then some.
“He’s having an incredible year, as we thought he would,” said Sullivan. “Mr. Arlotta brought him in first overall in the draft and he has proven to be just that. He’s picked us up when we need him to, and he’s battled hard and he’s willing to do whatever it takes. For us to have a young guy like that, and to have him keep getting better, it looks bright for our future.”
Despite the playoffs not being a part of it this year, the rookie’s success does bode well for the Swarm’s future - something he hopes to be a part of as long as possible.
“I’m just going to keep doing what they brought me on to do,” said Schuss. “Just going to keep piling them on and the balls on my stick they want me to put it in the net. I love playing here, the fans are great, get treated well and it’s a great group of guys. So hopefully a lot of years to come with the Swarm.”
Callum Crawford (1+2) posted a notable goal in the second quarter to tie former teammate Ryan Benesch (2+1) for the most goals in Swarm history (141). Coincidentally, Benesch happened to be on the opposing team when it happened.
“I knew it was a matter of time before he ties it or breaks it,” said Benesch. “Callum’s a great player, I wish him all the best and I’m very happy for him.”
“He’s been here for awhile, and he has worked hard for each and every one of those goals,” said Sullivan. “Its great to see him get that achievement and there has been a lot of people who have helped him do it.”
Helping take care of business in the goal for the Swarm was goalie Tyler Carlson with 40 saves on 49 shots - including a phenomenal save with under 20 seconds left in the game to keep Minnesota on top.
“T.C. played really well again,” said Benesch. “He made an incredible save at the end of the game there, most goalies probably wouldn’t make that.”
For Buffalo, Anthony Cosmo stood his ground in goal for the Bandits with 44 saves on 54 shots. In spite of the loss, Cosmo gave the Bandits a fighting chance.
“'Coz' has been like that all year for us, he’s been our backbone,” said Bandits head coach Troy Cordingley. “When we do break down he makes some big saves. He’s given us a chance to win every game.”
Minnesota went 3-for-5 on the power play with Buffalo going just 2-for-6 with the man advantage. A scoreless third quarter confirmed the defensive prowess of both teams and ensured no team was ever leading by more than two goals.
“I thought it was a well-played game by both teams, again,” said Cordingley. “We’re on the short end of it again but we had an opportunity to win it. I know that this is our fifth loss in a row but our effort was there and we just have to be more consistent.”
“Anytime you keep a team below 10, is a feat in itself,” said Sullivan. “To shut a team like Buffalo down, a second-place team that’s going to the playoffs, got a lot of jump, a lot of character, is great. Our defense just continues to get better.”
The Bandits have already clinched a playoff spot and are hoping to snap their five-game losing streak and collect the home turf advantage.
“We want to clinch a home playoff game for sure,” said Benesch. “We don’t want to go in the playoffs with a losing streak. We’ll bounce out of this and hopefully we can get that home playoff game in Banditland.”
And Minnesota still has something to play for - their pride.
“We have Colorado next week and the guys are already hyped about that to knock them down,” said Sullivan. “Both the teams we play in the next two weeks are playoff teams, so we want to put our stamp on where we should have been and be able to honestly say we should have been in the playoffs.”
Three Stars of the Game as selected by the media:
1) Logan Schuss
2) Ryan Benesch
3) Tyler Carlson
Next week, the Swarm will host the Colorado Mammoth on Saturday, April 19 at 8 p.m. ET while the Bandits will visit the Toronto Rock at Air Canada Centre on Friday, April 18 at 7 p.m. ET.