Young players excel for Swarm

  • Updated: May 2, 2012 - 10:20 PM

The Swarm, with 12 rookies, have won four games in a row and enters the playoffs on a hot streak.

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Swarm captain Andrew Suitor is a second-year player but the veteran leader of a young squad.

Photo: Elizabeth Flores, Star Tribune

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On a lot of teams, Andrew Suitor would be a fresh-faced youngster.

For the Minnesota Swarm, however, Suitor is the self-described "grumpy old guy," complete with his overgrown beard and his "bad hairline," which are constant sources of amusement for his younger teammates -- many of whom live in the same apartment complex.

That's what happens on a team that has put 12 rookies on the field, the most in the National Lacrosse League. Suitor, a second-year player, becomes a veteran leader -- and the youngest team captain in the league after turning 23 last week.

But Suitor is far from complaining about it. His leadership, combined with timely scoring from several sources, has combined nicely with the Swarm's youthful exuberance.

Minnesota won its final four regular-season games to finish 9-7, setting up a playoff showdown Saturday at Colorado -- the same team the Swarm defeated this past weekend. A franchise that is 0-5 all-time in the playoffs suddenly has some swagger.

"Four in a row is great, but seven in a row is what we're going for now," Suitor said, referring to what it would take to run through the single-elimination playoffs to win the league championship.

Though eight of nine NLL teams made the playoffs this season, even getting this far was not a foregone conclusion when the season started. Because of the team's youth, the Swarm was projected to finish at the bottom of the standings.

"I think people predicted we would win one or two games all year," said six-year NLL veteran Ryan Benesch, who has a team-high 33 goals. "We didn't surprise ourselves, but we definitely surprised some other teams."

Among those leading the charge was Jordan MacIntosh, who led all Swarm rookies with 51 points and was named to the All-Star team. Suitor, though, jokes that when it comes to household chores MacIntosh falls short.

"We're still trying to introduce him to a vacuum," he said.

Then again, he'd rather have MacIntosh help with some playoff sweeping.

"It's no secret there hasn't been a playoff run here. There's no hiding from it, and there's not sugarcoating it," Suitor said. "It's unacceptable, and we plan on being the team that changes it."

MICHAEL RAND

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