Minnesota Upends Top-Seeded Toronto

Toronto – The Minnesota Swarm upset the Toronto Rock on Sunday afternoon, knocking off the top seeded Rock by a score of 20-11 at Air Canada Centre. The Swarm now advance to face the Rochester Knighthawks next week in the East Division Final.

The Rock scored first and even built a 3-2 lead in the early going but Minnesota was right there scoring three times to build a 5-3 lead. Toronto scored once before the end of the quarter and trailed the Swarm 5-4.

Minnesota scored four straight goals to build a 9-4 lead before the 10-minute mark of the second quarter. Toronto's Scott Evans broke up the Swarm run, but Minnesota's Ryan Benesch quickly got that back with a powerplay strike and the Swarm carried a 10-5 lead into half.

The Rock and Swarm exchanged goals back and forth in the third quarter, as Toronto couldn't get on any kind of a roll. Minnesota carried a 13-8 lead into the fourth quarter.

Minnesota scored twice in the opening minute of the fourth quarter to lead 15-8 and never looked back. A series of penalties to the Rock left the Swarm on the powerplay for much of the fourth quarter and they took advantage of the opportunities to seal the win.

In the West Division, the Calgary Roughnecks will host the Washington Stealth with the winner advancing to the Champion's Cup final in two weeks.

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Toronto -- Three months ago, the NLL's Minnesota Swarm (8-9) had a multiple goal lead at the Toronto Rock (10-7) heading into the second half, but faltered down the stretch to lose 13-12. But this is a different Swarm team and Sunday afternoon's East Division semifinal game provided a different result as Minnesota ran past the Rock 20-11 to advance to the NLL division finals for the second straight year.

“The difference is maturity,” head coach Joe Sullivan said after the game. “Our leaders have been pivotal later in the year and all of our young guys have matured as well. In a 16-game season it takes rookies about five or six games to adjust and our first year guys were playing in every game. They have all had the opportunity to get their feet underneath them, gain confidence and trust amongst one another, and they've come together at the right time. We now have a big game to prepare for, but this game shows how we're evolving as a group.”

After scoring a franchise playoff record of 20 goals to win its second playoff game in franchise history, Minnesota will now advance to the East Division Finals at the Rochester Knighthawks Saturday May 4 at 4:00 p.m. CT. The game will be broadcast nationally by CBS Sports Network. There will be a viewing party for next weekend's game; details to be disclosed later.

Minnesota and Rochester have not played an official game against one another this season, but did face off in an exhibition contest at Blue Cross Arena in January. Minnesota lost that game 11-10 despite a multi-goal effort from rookie Kiel Matisz.

“They're the defending champions, so we're going in there expecting to see a great team in front of us,” Sullivan said. “They have a great defense, great goaltender, and absolutely amazing offense. We're going into their barn, they watched this game and know what we're all about, so I expect a lot of energy coming out of the Rochester side.”

For a young team without much playoff experience, Swarm veteran Ryan Benesch provided just what Minnesota needed him to Sunday afternoon going up against the seasoned Toronto Rock – which finished the regular season with the NLL's best record. The Kitchener, Ontario native posted a game-high nine points (3g, 6), which is the highest scoring total for Benesch since 2011.

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