Knighthawks down Swarm 15-14 in overtime as Swarm woes continue

April 5, 2014

ST. PAUL, Minn. - It took an additional two minutes past regulation for the winner to be decided in Friday night's contest between the visiting Rochester Knighthawks and the Minnesota Swarm. When it was all said and done, the Swarm fell short in their 21st overtime game in their history, the third overtime game this season, in front of 6,430 at the Xcel Energy Center. 

Rochester Knighthawks forward Cory Vitarelli prepares to check Minnesota Swarm transition Tyler Haas during Friday night's game at the Xcel Energy Center. Photo by Jeffrey Williams/Sportspage Magazine

The big scorer of the night was Rochester forward Stephen Keogh, who scored six goals on ten shots and picked up an additional six loose balls. However, it was Knighthawks forward Johnny Powless who scored the game winner 1:59 into the overtime period to secure the victory. Keogh's sixth and final goal occurred with 24.5 seconds left in regulation to force the overtime period. 

"It was a battle from start to finish. It just came down to the last shot and last possession," said Knighthawks head coach Mike Hasen. "If we give number 93 time and space there, he's going to put the ball in the net, and we'll take it." 

It was a see-saw battle for most of the contest, with Keogh starting the scoring with his first goal with 9:45 left in the first quarter. Swarm forward Callum Crawford shot a 20-foot rocket past Knighthawks goaltender Matt Vinc with 7:06 remaining in the period to tie. The first period ended in a 1-1 tie. 

Swarm transition Brock Sorensen opened the second quarter scoring with a breakaway goal in transition just 2:23 into the frame. Until the final buzzer sounded to end regulation, the visiting team either trailed or tied, but never led. The Swarm had a one-goal lead at halftime, 6-5. The end of the third quarter saw both teams coming to a 9-9 draw, and it was 14-14 at the end of regulation. 

Minnesota Swarm transition Jordan McIntosh scores against Rochester Knighthawks goaltender Matt Vinc during Friday night's game. Photo by Jeffrey William/Sportspage Magazine

"Four minutes to go with a three-goal lead, that's tough," said Minnesota Swarm assistant coach Aime Caines. "We had some bad bounces down the stretch and earlier in the game we were getting those bounces. I definitely thought it slipped out of our hands." 

"I wouldn't say we were playing bad. To battle that hard and come out in a game where I think we should have won is tough," Caines added. 

Crawford, who finished the game with three goals and six assists, knows that his Swarm team is filled with young players who are only now beginning to find the team chemistry needed to push through to more consistency. 

"We work so hard for those things to happen and it's just little mental breaks and you can blame it on whatever. I don't think there's an answer for it. It's not lack of hard work and effort. It's just little breaks here and here. We're believing in each other. Our offense is starting to get comfortable together. We're building team chemistry. We'll hopefully just keep getting better from here," he said. 

Minnesota Swarm forward Callum Crawford tries to break a check put on him by Rochester defenseman Ian Llord during the third quarter of Friday's contest. Photo by Jeffrey Williams/Sportspage Magazine

The Swarm were inspired to win the game because one of their most passionate fans, 23-year old Katy Miller, passed away last September because of a heart condition. Friday's game was dedicated in her honor.

"I was definitely playing for their family. It was an honor to be out there, shake their hands and give them a hug before the game," said Swarm transition and team captain Andrew Suitor. "Unfortunately we couldn't get the win, but everyone battled and showed a lot of pride towards that. It was something that really hit home for our team and our organization." 

Suitor changed the name tape on his jersey to "K. Miller" in honor of Miller, and will present the team-signed game-worn jersey to her family next week. 

"It shows that the Swarm team, from ownership down, we care about our fans. We want to show them that no matter what, we're here with you. We'll battle with you," he added. 

Rochester Knighthawks goaltender Matt Vinc and Minnesota Swarm defenseman Jeff Gilbert battle for a loose ball in the corner during Friday night's contest. Photo by Jeffrey Williams/Sportspage Magazine

Friday's game was the first of a home-and-home series against the Knighthawks. The series reverts to the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, N.Y. for a 7:30 p.m. ET start time tonight. The Knighthawks (10-4) have already clinched a playoff spot and remain atop the standings in the East. The Swarm (3-11) are still in the hunt for a playoff spot but essentially have to win out. With four-games remaining on the schedule, they are 1.5 games behind the Philadelphia Wings (5-10), and two games behind the Toronto Rock (5-9). 

"We've got to completely forget about this and move forward," said Crawford. "We've won out before. We've done that in this franchise, so why not do it again?" 

Tags: Aime Caines, Andrew Suitor, Callum Crawford, Johnny Powless, Mike Hasen, Minnesota Swarm, National Lacrosse League, NLL, Rochester Knighthawks, Stephen Keogh