Story by Dan O’Mara
Photos by Matt Blewett
The Minnesota Swarm ended their 2014 season last night at home, trying to put a positive end on a long season. The Toronto rock came in to Xcel Energy, with their playoff spot set, looking for home field advantage.
Through one quarter of play the swarm didn’t look like a team with nothing to play for…the crowd was electric, and the team was playing with a lot of energy. Toronto got on the board first with a goal from Stephan Leblanc. The Swarm answered halfway through the quarter with a 4 on 4 goal from Logan Schuss.
The Swarm had a couple of good chances, but just couldn’t find the back of the net again in the quarter. With time running out in the first, Toronto took a late lead with a goal from Stephan Leblanc, his second of the night.
The Swarm came out to the second quarter with the same energy they had in the first. 40 seconds into the quarter the Swarm tied the game with a power play goal from Kiel Matisz. As the second quarter continued, the energy from the Swarm waned, allowing the Rock several opportunities.
The Rock capitalized, scoring two goals in a span of 7 seconds and took a 4-2 lead. The Rock took control of the rest of the second quarter, but excellent goaltending by Zach Higgins kept the Swarm in it, ending the half at 4-2 Toronto.
Toronto’s goaltender, Brandon Miller, came up huge in the first three quarters, only allowing 2 goals on 40 shots through the first three quarters. The Swarm went scoreless through the entire 3rd quarter as well as most of the second quarter – Matisz’s goal came just 40 seconds into the second. The Rock kept the offense rolling, scoring three more goals in the third, taking a 7-2 lead into the final 15 minutes of the game.
The 4th quarter saw the reemergence of the Swarm’s energy as well as the best fan experience in the NLL as the crowd was still in full force trying to rally their team.
The Rock opened up scoring in the 4th with a goal from Nick Diachenko. Minnesota answered, after a 32:04 scoring drought, as Tyler Hass found the back of the net for Minnesota. They then found that first quarter energy, rallying to score 3 more goals to bring the game within two goals. Unfortunately their scoring came too late as time expired. Toronto won 8-6.
The Swarm end their season with a disappointing 4-14 Record, keeping them out of the playoffs.