If the National Lacrosse League was more well known, the Minnesota Swarm’s draft last fall might be considered one of the greatest hauls of talent in pro sports history.
After all, how often does one team pick up four of the first 10 draft picks, including three of the first four?
For a short time in training camp, Swarm coach Joe Sullivan felt like a child on Christmas morning who found a pile of great gifts under the tree.
“But you know how kids are. You always want a little more,” Sullivan said with a laugh.
Minnesota took Brock Sorensen of Ohio State with the second pick. That was followed by Kiel Matisz of Robert Morris third, Shayne Jackson of Limestone College fourth, and Alex Crepinsek of the Rochester Institute of Technology 10th.
“Every issue we felt we had to address, we did,” Sullivan said. “Crepinsek has been phenomenal. He’s been a lot like Andrew Suitor.
“It’s great to have four guys injected into the lineup like that. It really increased the competition in training camp. The other guys saw the writing on the wall that they couldn’t take anything for granted.”
Sorensen, Matisz, Jackson (three goals) and Crepinsek all made their professional debuts on Saturday night.
Now that the season is here, the Swarm’s plan is to give all of their rookies only a little responsibility at first. Minnesota wants the quartet to become more comfortable with the professional game.
Toward that end, Sullivan realizes that Buffalo is a good spot for an introduction to the NLL.
“That atmosphere, it’s electric,” he said before the game. “The Bandits are going to come in with something to prove. ... Some of these young guys will get their eyes opened rather quickly.”
The Bandits needed a captain for the upcoming season because of the loss of Chris White. They opted to go for someone who more than knows his way around the game at this point in his career.
“John Tavares has earned the ‘C’ after 23 years,” assistant coach Rich Kilgour said. “He said he would take on the role. It’s the first time in his career that he’s wearing the ‘C.’ ”
Shawn Williams and Scott self have been chosen as the assistant captains.
Saturday’s game marked the first time goalie Kurtis Wagar had played in Buffalo as a member of the home team; he’d only been here as a visitor. He was excited for the chance to be on the same side as the big crowd.
“I was tweeting earlier how excited I was to come to this barn on the right side of the arena,” he said. “I’m really excited to be here. I live in Ontario, so it’s the perfect fit for me. The fans are amazing. It’s great to be in the dressing room and here them cheer when you come out.”
Wagar played 49 minutes in relief of Anthony Cosmo. He finished with 22 saves on 31 shots. It was the second win of his National Lacrosse League career.