On Saturday the Chicago Swans opened up their 2015 campaign in the best possible way by posting a big W over arch rivals and nemeses, Minnesota Freeze. We were hard pressed to remember when the last away win had been posted against MN; some agreed it might have been about 5 years ago, when the infamous elevator got stuck!
What seems like a common thing moving forward both teams meeting half way to play each other on a neutral ground as one of two games the clubs will play against each other. MN went into the game without a few of their big names; regardless The Swans weren’t going to take this one lightly; MN already had some actual game time under their belts playing in a Tournament in Des Moines a few weeks ago.
Chicago was an unknown quantity with 6 first gamers coming into the side, all had big boots to fill with Frank Bradley, Alistair Martin, Al MacGlashan, Andrew Woodman, Drew Wolfe, Joe Swierupski, Danny Kastilan, Andy St John, Nolan Schmelzer, & Keith Campion to name a few, all unavailable for selection, adding to this scenario Dan Saarbacker & Matty Webb both sidelined because of injury. Full credit goes to the first gamers, Brett Barrett, Corey Barker, Jeff Kraemer, Graeme Radford, Nathan Bird & Brenton (Milwaukee Bombers) who all made valuable contributions to the win.
The Chicago traffic stifled our early exit, and because of that our preparation was shortened, and this showed in the first quarter. It took the Swans a half a quarter to warm up, and by that time the Freeze had banged on 3 goals, against what was a 3 goal breeze! The Swans were finally able to get their hands on the ball through the mid field, with Jayson Schmelzer, Pedro & Pony Boy starting to put their stamp on the game. The Swans added 2 goals late in the term through Tommy ‘Tank’ Shearman, and Sammy Svoboda. Paul Ensinger got himself a brand spanking new pair of ‘garden gloves’ and this did appear to aid his performance in the quarter with some sharp tackling and if wasn’t for errant kicking could have bagged a couple himself.
The second quarter saw the back line tighten up, Tiger was being well held by Nathan Bird, and the two Brads, along with Hoyt continually dented any forward thrusts by the Freeze. Tommy Edelstone found his position in the back line and arguably played his best game in a Red & White jersey. A solid team effort around the ground restricting the Freeze to just 4 behinds for the quarter. Graeme Radford bobbed up and added one to the Swans tally. The game was evenly poised at half time with the Swans taking the honors by the slimest of margins.
Game on in the third quarter with the contest being hard fought across the centreline, with the Freeze adding the only goal for the quarter. Some of the things we spoke about at halftime were hallmarks of our game in the third; our tackling, blocking, shepherding and getting to the bottom of every contest set us up for a ding dong battle in the last.
Trialling by 7 points going into the last quarter, the Swans threw caution to the wind and moved Graeme Radford into the ruck, Stu Nicoll found it difficult to get into the game for the first three terms got himself a few telling touches, and Corey Barker lit the forward line up and managed to slot a nice one from about 35 meters out on the run to help seal the deal. A great finish to the game that saw important goals to Sammy Svoboda, Nathan Bird, & Jeff Kraemer. Keep your eye on Jeff Kraemer, a very exciting taken that will be a huge asset for the Swans 2015 campaign. While it was tense in the last couple minutes the defense was dour and the midfield willing to chase down the opposition and make any possession they got ineffective.
A real satisfying win with everyone playing their part to win their position and help get us to our first win of the season. If this is a taste of things to come, with the addition of the absentees, the selection committee is going to have some headaches this year.
Our next challenge looms large with the Wayne Schwass Cup up for grabs in a couple weeks with the Swans traveling to Nashville to take on the inform Kangaroos, who will be hopping mad after their win on Saturday against Columbus in Columbus.
For any lads that have not responded to Hoyt about your availability, do it now. Nashville is always a cracking weekend, even better if we get to keep the Cup!
Chicago Swans Q1 2.3.15 – Q2 3.5.23 – Q3 3.7.25 – Final 7.8.50
Minnesota Freeze Q1 3.0.18 – Q2 3.4.22 – Q3 4.7.31 – Final 5.9.39
Goals: Sammy Svoboda 2, Tom Shearman, Graeme Radford, Nathan Bird, Corey Barker & Jeff Kraemer
Best: Corey Barker, Jason Wilhelm, Jayson Schmelzer, Brad Clifton, Brad Ross, Tommy Edelstone, Sammy Svoboda, Pedro Jimenez, Paul Enzinger