Thursday, December 27, 2012

9 Teams In 9 Days: Minnesota Swarm

By Mike Wilson

Our second stop on the 9 Teams In 9 Days tour takes to Minnesota where the young Swarm are gearing up to take a huge step in the West.

Last year they surprised the league and in some part themselves when they finished 3rd in the West with a 9-7 record.

The Swarm ended up with the third most goals, being lead by Callum Crawford (83 points), Ryan Benesch (72 points), and Kevin Ross (59 points). Kevin Ross has since signed with Philadelphia, but the offense sees more additions than subtractions.  The Swarm drafted Kiel Matisz with the third overall pick and Shayne Jackson with the forth overall pick in this years draft.

Matisz is a towering 6'5'' who will prove to be trouble to defend.  In his Junior "A" year with the Burlington Chiefs, Matisz scored 59 goals and 108 points on route to an MVP year. Playing with the Brooklyn Redmen of the MSL, Matisz put up 76 points over the past two summers in a supporting role.

Shayne Jackson is a little smaller coming in at 5''9', 180 pounds. He leaves Limestone college forth all-time in assists with 94. Jackson also scored 71 points in his senior years, 44 of them being assists.

The Swarm got elevated play in the transition and offensive game from Andrew Suitor, who won transition Player Of The Year, and Jordan Macintosh who was a candidate for Rookie Of The Year.

The Swarm also held the second overall pick in the draft and took Brock Sorensen, a 6''6' 220 pound defender from Ohio State. He has the skills to dominate the floor in his own end, run up the ball, and score. The Swarm allowed the third least goals last year and Sorensen will be a great addition if his ACL can
hold up.

For the Swarm to have been as good as they were, they had to get some help in goal, and they found it in the form of rookies Evan Kirk and Tyler Carlson. Kirk was first in save percentage for goalies who played more than 22 minutes, stopping 80.7% of the shots he faced. In the NLL, anything about .800 is outstanding so the question will be can Kirk sustain that number, or does it come from a small sample size?

The Swarm and a dangerous team and very young to boot. The 2013 roster features 6 rookies, 4 of them being first round picks, and 10 players who made their debut in 2012. They may have overachieved last year, so I would see them coming down to earth if they weren't cushioned by their draft class, which they will be. Consistency will be added and that can be huge.

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