After starting their season off on the wrong foot, the Minnesota Swarm (1-1) have a lot of positives to take out of their 14-10 comeback road win over the Edmonton Rush (0-2) at Rexall Place on Saturday night. In the third quarter, the Rush held a 9-3 lead before the Swarm went on an 11-1 run including an impressive nine goals in the fourth quarter.
“We took care of the ball which was big. But to be honest, we just believed,” said Swarm forward Callum Crawford, who finished the game with six points (3+3). “We were getting good looks in the first half, we just weren’t barring the ball. I think that was the true testament of a family in there; nobody gave up on each other the whole game and finally things came together. “
Minnesota’s Ethan O’Connor started the scoring with a shorthanded goal just over four minutes into the first. Swarm rookie Miles Thompson scored to make it 2-0, but the lead would not last after Rush goals from Riley Loewen and Robert Church tied the game at 2 before the end of the first. Robert Church’s goal was scored on a 5-on-3 man advantage, but it was more like a 5-on-2 with Swarm captain Andrew Suitor losing his stick.
Edmonton continued its scoring in the second quarter, adding four goals to their previous two, making it six in a row. The Rush saw goals from Zack Greer, Chris Corbeil, and Mark Matthews, who scored two in the second. Suitor broke Edmonton’s streak with a goal in transition, Minnesota’s only goal of the quarter. The first half did not deliver the crispness that either team wanted, but the Rush were not angry with a 7-3 lead.
Minnesota’s early offensive struggles continued though the second half as they had to wait until the the 12:41 mark of the second before Callum Crawford netted his first two goals of the game and their first since of the half. Before that, the Swarm started pulling their goaltender to try and give the offence some jump. Brodie McDonald was pulled in front of his former team after Jarrett Davis gave the Rush a 9-3 lead. McDonald allowed nine goals on 30 shots before getting the hook. The Rush led 9-5 going into the final quarter, but the game was far from over.
Those late goals sparked the Swarm as they charged back early in the fourth quarter. Shayne Jackson and Miles Thompson scored to get the Swarm within two, but Ben McIntosh answered back, to help preserve the Rush lead. With time running out in the fourth, Jackson scored to again make it a two-goal game, but Logan Schuss answered for the Swarm to pull within one just seconds later. The Rush couldn’t stop the Swarm from scoring after that. Minnesota went on to put three more past Rush goaltender Aaron Bold, including the incredible game-winning goal scored by Miles Thompson. While facing away from the net, Thompson threw the ball over his shoulder into the top corner while falling down for the highlight-reel goal (WATCH) that deservedly made ESPN SportsCenter’s Top 10 Plays.
“Miles got dragged down but still had the smarts and athleticism to release the ball and beat Aaron Bold.” said Minnesota head coach Joe Sullivan.
The Swarm scored two more into an empty net to make it a 14-10 final keyed by a tying a team record with nine fourth quarter goals. Sullivan went on to talk about what changed about his team as the comeback started.
“Sometimes it take changing the goalie to spike the guys up a little bit so we did that,” he said. “But really, it started with our defense being able to shut them down and give us a little breathing room. Late in the third, we got our fourth and our fifth goal and that gave us a bit of momentum going into the fourth. We just out worked them in the fourth quarter and that’s no disrespect to a great team down the hall here but we did. We outworked them and it paid off for us.”
Zach Higgins, who played in relief of Brodie McDonald stopped 14 of the 15 shots he faced, helping his team to victory.
Crawford thinks that this game was a great way for them to prove themselves and that it will act as a great building block for the team going forward.
“Everybody in this locker room believes,” Crawford said. “And to be able to do what we just did really shows the character in that room and what we are capable of doing as a team. Now it’s on us to actually execute that for four quarters instead of just two. If we can do that, we will be a very dangerous team.”
For the Rush, the game contained fewer positives.
“The NLL is a game of runs and we gotta expect a run for them, they’re a good club,” Said Rush Assistant Coach Jeff McComb. “When they got on their run we just didn’t respond very well. We didn’t win any faceoffs, we didn’t get any defensive stops when we kind of needed a defensive stop, and we didn’t get any goals when we had 3 or 4 really good chances on O to put the game away.”
Rush goaltender Aaron Bold also wasn’t happy about the way the game ended, but accepts it as an opportunity to grow.
“We didn’t stick to our principles,” Bold said. “They started to play their game style, run and gun a little bit and they were getting the chances that they wanted inside as well as outside shots. I personally wasn’t seeing the ball very well and tracking it and making the stops when I needed to make the stops. But everyone needs to be a little better for sure. I’m a firm believer in disliking losing more than you like winning.”
Bold also went on to talk about the impact Derek Keenan’s absence has had on the team.
“He’s a big presence in the change room and I think we feel that loss a little but,” he said. “It’s hard getting up and going, but I think we just have to stick with out principles and move forward.”
Both teams have a Week 3 bye. The Swarm’s next matchup will be against the unbeaten New England Black Wolves (2-0), while the Rush will travel down to Scotiabank Saddledome to play the Calgary Roughnecks (0-2) for the first regular season edition of the Battle of Alberta.
Three Stars of the Game as selected by the media:
1) Callum Crawford
2) Mark Matthews
3) Miles Thompson
Story by Mike Wilson (@RushBeat) for NLL.com. Photo by Dale MacMillan.