The Minnesota Swarm (6-12) finished off the season with a thrilling 13-12 overtime win against the Rochester Knighthawks (12-6) in front of 9,086 fans at Xcel Energy Center on Saturday night. With the victory, Minnesota won the season series 2-1 against the three-time defending champion Knighthawks.
After an exciting 60 minutes of regulation, the two teams went into overtime for the second time this season at The Hive. There was no score during the first 10 minutes of back-and-forth action in overtime, until second-year transition player Jason Noble scooped up a loose ball and sprinted up the floor for a two-on-one opportunity. As he entered the offensive zone, Noble whipped a bounce shot farside that slipped past Knighthawks’ G Matt Vinc for the game-winner. The score marked Noble’s first ever NLL goal, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
“Guys were nagging him all year to get that goal, glad it paid off in overtime fashion,” Swarm transition player Kiel Matisz told Mariah Holland from MNSwarm.com. “We’re all very happy for him to have a first goal like that.”
Minnesota started out with an early two-goal lead in the game with goals by both T Ethan O’Connor (1g, 1a) and Matisz (4g, 1a). The Knighthawks fought back to get on the scoreboard and cut the lead to one, but the Swarm added a goal from T Joel White (1g, 2a) to regain the two-goal lead. Rochester then went on a four-goal run to end the first quarter and held a 5-3 advantage. The Knighthawks scored first in the second quarter but Minnesota fought back to make it a close game at halftime, 6-5.
Swarm goaltender Brodie MacDonald entered the game in relief of Zach Higgins at the beginning of the second quarter and played a phenomenal game in the win. MacDonald made a season-high 47 saves and only allowed six goals. MacDonald also recorded an assist in the game off ofShayne Jackson’s goal in the middle of the fourth quarter. After the game, MacDonald spoke highly of the Swarm’s fan base and their enthusiasm Saturday night.
“The fans are always great here,” MacDonald said. “Every game no matter where we are in the standings, they’re great.”
Minnesota’s T David Earl (1g) tied the game at six early in the third quarter and F Joe Maracle (2g) got the go-ahead goal 20 seconds later to make it 7-6. Rochester’s T Jordan Hall (3g, 2a) answered back to even the game up at seven. Minnesota then took control and scored back-to-back goals by Matisz and D Mitch Belisle (1g). With 38 seconds left in the quarter, Matisz took advantage of a potential two-for-one scoring opportunity by ripping a long shot past Vinc. The Swarm then converted on its second chance when Belisle scored with just four seconds left in the quarter.
“Honestly we were trying to get the ball back with 10-15 seconds left,” Matisz said. “I think I caught ‘Vno’ standing still there and he wasn’t expecting me.”
The Swarm controlled most of the fourth quarter until Rochester tied the game with two minutes left in regulation and pushed it to overtime where the back-to-back action continued until Noble scored the game-winner.
“It was a beauty,” MacDonald said. “Bounce shot farside, doesn’t get much better than that.”
Minnesota forward Shayne Jackson (2g, 4a) finished the season first in points for the Swarm with 79. Rookie F Miles Thompson (1g, 2a) was second in points with 62 and finished the season second in scoring amongst rookies in the NLL. Despite missing the last few games of the season, F Callum Crawford was third in scoring for the Swarm with 53 points. Newcomer Joel White ended the season second in the NLL for loose balls with 182 and teammate T Jordan MacIntosh (3a) finished in fourth with 171 loose balls.
The Knighthawks were led offensively tonight and during the season by Cody Jamieson. “Jammer” scored four goals and added one assist to finish with a team-high 92 points this season. Rochester got six-point efforts from Dan Dawson (1+5) and Joe Resetarits (2+4), who tied his career highs in assists and points in a game.
Rochester never backed down and battled back all second half. Four times they got within one until they finally tied the game off a quick stick goal from Jordan Hall (3+2) that beat Brodie MacDonald. Jamieson fueled the comeback with three goals, while Cory Vitarelli also tallied once in the final 15 minutes of the fourth.
Matt Vinc stood tall in goal, blocking 35 shots, which included three in overtime. Dylan Evans had a career night, winning 22 faceoffs and collecting 19 loose balls.
The Knighthawks will host the Buffalo Bandits in the single-elimination East Division Semifinals on Friday, May 8 at The Blue Cross Arena. Faceoff is at 7 p.m. ET. The winner of the game will face the Toronto Rock in the East Division Finals.
Three Stars of the Game as selected by the media:
1) Kiel Matisz
2) Cody Jamieson
3) Brodie MacDonald
Story courtesy of Mariah Holland from MNSwarm.com. Photo by Scott Pierson.