January 15, 2010

NLL: Greer Leads Swarm to Win in Home Opener

by Joshua Chalmers | NLL.com

The Minnesota Swarm (1-1) was able to exact a measure of revenge on the Calgary Roughnecks (1-1) in a 12-10 win at Minnesota's Xcel Energy Center on Friday night. The Roughnecks had won a season-opening matchup between the two teams last Sunday 12-7.

Minnesota rookie Zack Greer continued his impressive rookie showing with one goal and four assists in his first home game in the NLL in front of 11,758 fans. 

"It's easier to play when the fans are behind you instead of screaming at you," Greer said. "It was a good crowd tonight and we used that energy." 

Greer's first goal on the Swarm's home floor came early in a third quarter that saw the Swarm outscore the Roughnecks 3-0. 

"I took a pass and went strong through the middle," Greer said. "As I was falling I took a shot and it snuck in there. It was nice to get one at home and get that out of the way."
While the Roughnecks opened the scoring in the second minute of the game, the Swarm responded quickly. A goal from Jay Thorimbert at the 3:58 mark started a run of five unanswered goals for the home side in the first half. 

The Roughnecks were, once again, led by Josh Sanderson who had two goals and six assists to follow up his ten point opening weekend. Tracey Keluskey was the leading goal scorer for the Riggers with three, in addition to chipping in with four assists.

The shots for the game were heavily weighted in favor of the Calgary side with the Roughnecks holding a 51-38 advantage. Minnesota goalie Nick Patterson made 41 saves on the 51 Calgary shots. 

"He was fantastic," said Minnesota head coach Mike Lines. "He was stopping the ball and controlled his rebounds really well. That is the key to preventing garbage goals around the net."

In addition to Patterson's defensive efforts he aided the transition game with quick passes off of saves. Two of those passes led to breakaway's by Andrew Watt, both of which ended with the ball in the net. Only one would count on the scoreboard, as after a review on a play early in the third quarter Watt's foot was found to be in the crease. 

The goal that Watt was credited with at 14:40 of the third was also close to being a crease violation, but the Roughnecks did not have any replay challenges left to use.

"The first one was definitely in the crease, we saw it on the replay," Lines said. "(Watt) made a nice move he just got in too tight. The second one, I'm sure if they had a challenge they probably would have challenged it. It was pretty close." 

A penalty-filled game saw the Roughnecks power play go 4 for 10, while the Swarm capitalized on three of six chances. In a back-and-forth fourth quarter the Swarm were able to withstand two five minute majors assessed to Ryan Cousins and Greer. 

"We didn't like the calls, but it's part of the game," said Swarm player Sean Pollock, who had a goal and two assists in the win. "You have to play with the hand that's dealt to you and move on. (Patterson) played well in net and the guys on D did a good job as well."

Pollock said the win should be a sign of things to come.

"We hadn't been together since Dec. 19 in Denver, so it has been a long time," said Pollock. "It's hard to throw the guys together and say 'go out there and get the job done.' The more we play together and the better we play, the more confidence we will build. If we keep playing like this we are going to be a pretty solid team."

Both teams will be on their respective home floors next week. The Swarm will host the Colorado Mammoth on Friday night at the Xcel Energy Center at 8:35 p.m ET. The Roughnecks face the Washington Stealth on Saturday night at the Pengrowth Saddledome at 9:35 p.m. ET. 

"We are happy tonight with the win, but we aren't satisfied going forward," said Greer.

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