The Minnesota Swarm kicked off their first weekend of training camp this week and will cap it off with a pair of scrimmages. They face the Rochester Knighthawks tonight at 7 CST and meet the Calgary Roughnecks on Sunday at 11 CST. They play in New York on Saturday and Ontario on Sunday. These will be the first opportunities for players to show in game action why they should have a roster spot. 30 players are a camp, 20 roster spots are available, and very few spots are locked in.
The Swarm will be looking to returning players, Callum Crawford, Jordan MacIntosh, Logan Schuss, Shayne Jackson and Kiel Matisz to continue their strong play from last season. They should be getting a boost from the return of defenseman Mitch Belisle on the defensive end. Continued solid defense from Greg Downing and Alex Crepinsek will round out the defensive leaders.
They’ll be looking to see what newbies Shane MacDonald, Joe Maracle, Zach Palmer, Marcus Holman, Andrew Casimir, Pat Miles, Ian Crawford, Eric Guiltinan, and Sam Bradman can do. The pressure may be on for top pick Miles Thompson to continue his college success.
The Swarm are facing off tonight against Rochester, the defending league champions. For a team that went 4-14 last year, this could be a tough one. As always, the challenge will be solving Matt Vinc. On the offensive side, the Swarm need to work at shutting down Cody Jamieson, Dan Dawson and Stephen Keogh. Defensively, they will have to get past Sid Smith, Brad and Scott Self, and Dan Dawson (that guy is everywhere).
Sunday, they are back in Ontario at the TRAC to take on the Roughnecks. The Roughnecks lost to the Knighthawks last year in the Champion’s Cup. Again, the Swarm face a solid netminder in Mike Poulin. Faceoff man Geoff Snider will give Jordan MacIntosh a workout. Offensively, the Swarm need to keep an eye on Curtis Dickson, Shawn Evans, Dane Dobbie and Jeff Shattler. Defensively, it’s getting past Jon Hartnett, Andrew McBride, and Curtis Manning that could prove troublesome.
The Swarm face two tough games this weekend. Win or lose, these will be two good benchmarks to see where they are at, what they need to work on, and where they need to go.