Minnesota roster includes five rookies; Sorensen starts year on PUP list

MLL Rookie of the Year Matt Gibson will bring his sick stick skills indoors with the Swarm. (Photo: Yale Athletics)
MLL Rookie of the Year Matt Gibson will bring his sick stick skills indoors with the Swarm. (Photo: Yale Athletics)

The National Lacrosse League’s (NLL) Minnesota Swarm today announced its final 23-man roster and three practice squad players for the 2013 season. Minnesota will open its ninth season of play in the NLL on the road against the Buffalo Bandits on Saturday, Jan 12.

Minnesota enters the 2013 season with high expectations after recording its best season to date in 2012. Despite fielding the league’s youngest roster last season, the Swarm advanced to the West Division Finals for the first time in team history after finishing 9-7 in the regular season. Minnesota will return 18 players from last year’s roster and has added five new faces – all rookies – to its 23-man roster in 2013.

“I’ve said it a ton of times, we’re looking at the Champions Cup and we’re looking hard at the opportunity to get there and removing any obstacles that are in front of us,” Swarm associate general manager and head coach Joe Sullivan said.

Sullivan is entering his first full season as the Swarm’s head coach in 2013 after taking over the team six games into last season. The Peterborough, Ontario native was named the 2012 NLL Head Coach of the Year after helping Minnesota finish the regular season on a four-game winning streak. Minnesota’s front office also featured the NLL’s General Manager of the Year (John Arlotta) and Executive of the Year (Andy Arlotta) in 2012.

On the floor, Minnesota is led by team captain and reigning NLL Transition Player of the Year Andrew Suitor, who enters his third season in the NLL, and second as the Swarm’s captain. On offense, veteran All-Star forwards Ryan Benesch and Callum Crawford return to the lineup for their fourth season together, and will be asked to lead one of the league’s youngest offensive units. Transition player Jordan MacIntosh became the first rookie in team history to be named an All-Star in 2012, and is expected to continue to take a majority of the team’s draws, as well as see an increased role on offense.

Minnesota was the only team in the NLL that featured two rookie goalies in 2012, and both Evan Kirk and Tyler Carlson will be looking to build off their strong rookie campaigns as second-year pros. Transition player Jeff Gilbert, who was named to the 2012 All-Pro Second Team, headlines the Swarm’s defensive unit after ranking second in the NLL with 26 forced turnovers last season. In transition, the Swarm will utilize the talents of Suitor and MacIntosh along with veterans Andrew WattTyler Hass and David Earl to form one of the league’s most athletic lineups.

A group of rookies are also expected to make immediate impacts for the Swarm in 2013. This past October, the Swarm held a league-high four first-round picks in the 2012 NLL Entry Draft and selected T Brock Sorensen (No. 2, Ohio State), T Kiel Matisz (No. 3, Robert Morris), F Shayne Jackson (No. 4, Limestone) and D Alex Crepinsek (No. 10, RIT).

“The one thing we wanted to do was get bigger and we definitely did that with our draft picks,” Sullivan said. “Speed has always been something that we’ve looked for in any player and I think we’ve found that as well. When you can find speed and size in five or six new players, that’s really exciting. Our fans are going to be thrilled with the tempo of our play.”

Sorensen, the team’s No. 2 overall selection, will start the season on the physically unable to perform list. The 6-foot-6 transition player is still rehabbing from a knee injury that he sustained this past spring while playing with Ohio State University.

2013 Swarm 23-man Roster:

Forwards (8): Ryan Benesch, Jay Card, Callum Crawford, Matt Gibson*, Joel Henry, Shayne Jackson*, Pat Smith, Corbyn Tao

Defensemen (7): Dan Ball, Mitch Belisle, Nik Bilic, Alex Crepinsek*, Greg Downing, Jeff Gilbert, Michael O’Brien*

Transition (6): David Earl, Tyler Hass, Jordan MacIntosh, Kiel Matisz*, Andrew Suitor ‘C’, Andrew Watt

Goalies (2): Evan Kirk, Tyler Carlson

Practice Roster (3): G Zach Higgins*, G Ryan Masters*, T Tyler Tanguay*

*Denotes Rookie

Minnesota opens its home season on Treasure Island Field at Xcel Energy Center on Saturday, Jan. 26 against the Washington Stealth. Faceoff is set for 7 p.m. CT.

Swarm fans looking to lock up 2013 Season Tickets can take advantage of a Buy 2, Get 2 at 50% offer. By purchasing two season tickets at full price, fans can add an additional two tickets for half the cost. Single Game Tickets start as low as $21 for all eight home games in 2013. For purchasing information on both Season and Single Game Tickets, fans can call 1-888-MN-SWARM or visit mnswarm.com

Stamp is a TV sports announcer and lacrosse lover whose skill set made him a defender but who always dreamed of being a goal-scorer. He can be reached at stamplax@hotmail.com.

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