They say you can't go home again, but a couple Minnesota Swarm players are about to do it for a second consecutive week.
Jordan MacIntosh and Alex Crepinsek are two members of a young Swarm team that is coming off an absurd 20-11 beatdown of Toronto last weekend in the National Lacrosse League in the division semifinal. For the second consecutive season the Swarm has reached the division finals — the team will play in Rochester, N.Y., at 3 p.m. Saturday.
"Last year we reached the division finals and got smoked," MacIntosh said of a 15-3 loss to Edmonton. "Hopefully it won't happen again."
MacIntosh and Crepinsek grew up minutes away from each other in Oakville, Ont., which is about 15 minutes west of Toronto. They played together at every level, including in college at the Rochester Institute of Technology. MacIntosh was a first-round pick a year ago while Crepinsek was one of a league-record four first-round picks before this season.
"I was definitely in our owner's ear when the draft was coming around to pick him," MacIntosh said. "When they took him with the last pick in the first round [No. 10 overall] it was pretty exciting."
Said Crepinsek: "It was a dream come true."
Last week the Swarm — which started the season 3-7 before gathering momentum late — went to Toronto and beat a team that had finished with the league's best regular season record. It was a victory watched by scores of family and friends who came to watch MacIntosh and Crepinsek play. This week it will be much the same, with both players returning to their college home.
A two-year roster overhaul has made the Swarm the youngest team in the league. That included the four first-round draft picks last fall — Brock Sorensen at No. 2, Kiel Matisz at No. 3, Shayne Jackson at No. 4 and Crepinsek at No. 10 — that left the Swarm with a 23-man roster featuring 13 first- or second-year players.
That might have been one reason for the slow start. But the Swarm finished the regular season 4-2 and pushed into the NLL's final playoff spot.
"Maybe it did take a little longer to get things together at the beginning of the season," Crepinsek said. "We were a young team. But we are definitely coming together at the right time of the year. A lot of the younger guys have some time under our belts now."
It showed in Toronto. Matisz and Jackson combined to score seven of the Swarm's 21 goals. MacIntosh — who was named the NLL's transition player of the year Wednesday — had four goals after totaling 55 points during the regular season.
Now the Swarm will play defending NLL champion Rochester.
"They have a good defense, probably the best goaltender in the league," MacIntosh said. "So it's going to be a tough one, for sure. We won't put up the gaudy numbers we have lately. It will be a battle."