Wings Win in OT; Other Home Teams Fall on Saturday

Toronto will enjoy a bye week next weekend as the rest of the NLL regular plays out.

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The Colorado Mammoth got off to a sluggish start on Saturday night on HealthONE Field at Pepsi Center, trailing 9-2 at halftime to the Minnesota Swarm. Colorado rallied to score 10 goals in the second half, but it wasn't enough to defeat Minnesota. The Swarm won, 17-12, in a game that would have clinched a playoff berth for the Mammoth.

"I'm still trying to fit into the system," said Colorado forward Casey Powell, who finished with a team-high four goals and four assists. "Tonight, in the first half, there wasn't a system. We came out lackadaisical, complacent ... and didn't get into a lot of regular shifts."

The Mammoth can still clinch a playoff berth when the teams meet next weekend at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., or by way of other scenarios. But on Saturday night, the NLL's hottest team looked pedestrian at times on both ends of the floor.

"They're a hard-working offensive team and they never stop moving," said Mammoth defenseman Creighton Reid of the Swarm. "We had a few lapses late in the shot clock where maybe we were thinking about heading in the other direction and not finishing our defensive shift."

Colorado had won four of its last five. Now it looks to end the regular season on a high note next Saturday.

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Denver Before Saturday night's game, the National Lacrosse League's (NLL) Minnesota Swarm (7-8) coaching staff made it clear that they wanted to grab their second road win of the season to solidify their playoff chances.

"In order to control our own destiny and get into the playoffs we need to take matters into our own hands and get a win this weekend," head coach Joe Sullivan said.

That's exactly what Minnesota did at Denver's Pepsi Center, beating the Colorado Mammoth (6-9) 17-12 to break a West Division deadlock and clinch a spot in the playoffs. The Swarm has now advanced to the postseason for four-straight years, and for the seventh time in nine seasons.

Saturday night it all began with great team defense behind the stellar play of Tyler Carlson. The second-year goaltender made 35 saves in the game to grab his fourth win of the season. Carlson made a spectacular save in the middle of the fourth quarter, blocking a breakaway shot and then deftly diving into the net to stop the ball from ricocheting in. Heading into the game, Carlson's goals allowed average was 10.39 second-best in the NLL.

One of the best ways to measure defensive effort is through loose ball totals. As a team, Minnesota recorded 67 on the night to Colorado's 36.

"Everybody says we're young and athletic and we are," Sullivan said. "That shows in us being able to track balls down, get hungry, and do the dirty work in a very important game."

One of those hard-working players was David Earl, who scooped up seven loose balls, forced a turnover and did a lot of other things that don't get recorded on the stat sheet.

"Dave's ability to track the ball down, transition the ball up the floor and find the offensive player is one of those unsung things that doesn't get rewarded on the stat sheet," Sullivan said. "It's something that is definitely noticed by our club."

After starting the year with a 3-7 record, the Swarm set a goal of finishing the season at .500. At the time the objective seemed daunting, but the team has come together and is now just one win away from the accomplishment.

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2013-04-14



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