Posted at 9:26 AM on April 13, 2008
by David Zingler
Much of the state's sporting attention has been focused on the Wild's playoff run lately, but there is another team that calls the Xcel Energy Center home. The National Lacrosse League's Minnesota Swarm took the field against the Philadelphia Wings on Saturday night with first place in the Eastern Division on the line.
The Xcel crowd of 12, 830 consisted mainly of college students and young families with boys. Spurred on by the Arena Football-like atmosphere in which the PA announcer taunts the opposition, they are loyal and rowdy. The "Thunder Sticks" passed out at the gate add to mayhem. There is definitely a hint of WWE in the air.
The player's uniforms are a hybrid of their more popular cousins: a hockey-style jersey and helmet with basketball shorts, while the goalie's leg pads are oversized catcher's shin guards.
Former Twins pitcher Scott Erickson and his wife Lisa Guerrero were in attendance to promote a film both are funding and Guerrero is starring in: A Plumm Summer. It is billed as a family movie and co-stars Henry Winkler and Jeff Daniels.
The Swarm quickly fell behind 3-1 in the 1st quarter, but scored the next 9 goals to take a 10-3 lead at the half. Swarm forward Colin Achenbach scored his 1st career goal in second quarter. The Burnsville native is the only Minnesotan on team. According to the game's program, only 4 of the Swarm's 25 players are American, the rest hail from Canada.
Philadelphia however, went on a 7-1 run to open the second half and the game was on. The Wings' Athan Iannucci broke the NLL's single season record when he netted his 62nd goal of the season in the third quarter. He would add another in the fourth. Hall of Famer Gary Gait set the previous record of 61 in 2003.
The Wings took 14-13 lead with just over 3 minutes remaining, which set the stage for a furious finish. With an empty net behind him, the Swarm's Dan Marohl scored with 1.5 seconds left in regulation to tie the game at 14. Sean Pollack then scored just over a minute into the sudden death overtime to give the Swarm a 15-14 win and up the team's home record to 6-0.
You don't have to know much about Lacrosse to enjoy the sport (I speak from experience here). It is physical with a lot of action, blending hockey and basketball with a sprinkle of football. The $10 ticket price makes it an affordable way to enjoy an evening and get a good look at the Xcel Center.