After 11 seasons in St. Paul the Minnesota Swarm announced on May 22 their intention to relocate for the 2016 season. The news came as a bit of surprise as the franchise average 7,799 fans per game in 2015, fifth best in the nine-team National Lacrosse League.
The Swarm has had its share of highs and lows on the floor and away from Xcel Energy Center, where their lease expired this season. Seven seasons of the Youth Box League (YBL) featured over 1,200 players in four age categories compete in 2015. The program also included the Jr. Swarm, an elite travel box lacrosse program for midget and bantam age players, first formed in 2013.
Success on the floor was steady in the early years. After finishing 5-11 in their inaugural season the Swarm were 8-8 in 2006, 9-7 in 2007 and a franchise-best record of 10-6 in the 2008 season. Marty O’Neill was named NLL GM of the Year in both 2007 and 2008, leading the Swarm to three straight playoff appearances.
In July of 2008 the franchise saw an ownership change as John Arlotta purchased the team from Minnesota Sports & Entertainment (MSE), who saw the team go 32-32 in four NLL seasons.
A turning point in the franchise may have been the trade of Craig Point to Rochester in February of 2009. Point scored 61 points in 2008 and was named NLL Rookie of the Year. Just four games into his second season the Ohsweken native was moved to the Knighthawks along with Dean Hill in exchange for Aaron Wilson.
An October of 2009 trade saw the rights to goalie Aaron Bold (and two other players) moved to Rochester for Ryan Hoff. Bold is currently a standout with Edmonton. Hoff never played a game in the NLL.
Minnesota finished 6-10 in 2009, missing the playoffs for the first time since their inaugural season. Head Coach Duane Jacobs was let go at the end of the season, but Arlotta was named NLL Executive of the Year.
Trades and top draft selections have been the highlight of the Swarm more recently. Zach Greer was selected 3rd overall in 2009, but would play less than two seasons before being dealt to Edmonton.
The Swarm drafted a pair in the first round of the 2011 draft selecting Jordan MacIntosh (4th) and goalie Evan Kirk (6th).
A dispersal draft of the Boston Blazers saw Minnesota acquire the rights to Anthony Cosmo, Josh Sanderson and Mitch Belisle. Cosmo (Colorado) and Sanderson (Toronto) were both dealt never to play for the Swarm.
In 2012 the team would draft four times in the first round, taking Brock Sorenson (2nd), Kiel Matisz (3rd), Shayne Jackson (4th) and Alex Crepinsek (10th). Players passed on included Dhane Smith, Joe Resetarits and Curtis Knight (2012 CLA Player of the Year).
2013 would see another four picks in the first round, including top choice Logan Schuss. Jason Noble (2nd), Cameron Flint (4th) and Scott Jones (7th) were also drafted by the Swarm.
Another landmark trade involved Ryan Benesch, who after four seasons and 334 points, was dealt to Buffalo before the 2014 season. Benesch lead all NLL scorers in 2011 with 95 points.
In 2015 three Swarm players were among the top 35 NLL scorers. Jackson (30 G, 48 A) had a breakout season, his third with Minnesota. Rookie Miles Thompson (27 G, 35 A) thrilled fans throughout the season and will be a top scorer in the league for years to come. An injury limited Callum Crawford, the franchise all-time leading scorer, to 53 points in 12 games.
Minnesota had just one winning season in their final seven years in St. Paul, going 9-7 in 2012. Under the ownership of Arlotta, the Swarm has a record of 45-71 in seven years. Now it appears they will be the frustration of another city in 2016.
15 Swarm players traded away – 2015 NLL stats
- Ryan Benesch, Buffalo – 55 G, 58 A
- Josh Sanderson, Toronto – 19 G, 83 A
- Zach Greer, Edmonton – 44 G, 36 A
- Logan Schuss, Vancouver – 22 G, 44 A
- Kasey Beirnes, Toronto – 35 G, 25 A
- Kevin Ross, Toronto – 21 G, 34 A
- Craig Point, Buffalo – 22 G, 24 A
- Sean Pollock, Colorado – 15 G, 24 A
- Chad Culp, Buffalo – 11 G, 25 A
- Dean Hill, released – 11 G, 11 A
- Andrew Suitor, New England – 10 G, 10 A
- Aaron Wilson, Rochester – 3 G, 7 A (4 games; injury)
- Jon Sullivan, Rochester – 2 G, 4 A
- Andrew Watt, Buffalo – 1 G, 2 A
- Aaron Bold, Edmonton – 12-5 W-L; 9.44 GAA; .779 save%