Game 1 of the East Division Finals in 2017 featured a scary moment when Chad Tutton went down during the game. The news came out that he had suffered an Achilles injury and would miss significant time, stretching into the 2017-18 season.
How quickly he returned was up to how much effort he put into his rehab. Anyone expecting Tutton to take it easy and not return as soon as possible has never met him.
Tutton took to the floor for the first time in 2018 against the Toronto Rock on February 17. By his own admission, Tutton was a little nervous about his first indoor game in nearly a year and was a little rusty, but those nerves died quickly after a few shifts, and that rust disappeared after a few games.
It was exactly what the Swarm wanted to see, that consistently aggressive physicality that earned Tutton his 2016 NLL All-Rookie Team honors and helped the Swarm win a World Championship in 2017.
It also helped that Tutton is a veritable ball of energy, and his presence helped flip a switch in the Swarm locker room.
“Great team guy,” Swarm assistant coach Sean Ferris said. “You see the smile on his face. When he’s out there – we missed his physical presence at the beginning of the season. It was good to have him back in the lineup.”
Before too long, Tutton was dishing out his usual hard hits and getting in opponents’ heads. He didn’t score a goal in his 10 games, but Tutton was instrumental in getting the ball down the floor quickly for the Swarm.
“He pushed it, didn’t score, but he kept battling, and when he didn’t think he had that chance, he dished the ball out,” Ferris said.
It was more important in 2017-18 for Tutton to get his legs back under him, to get back into form physically and sharpen those game instincts. By April, it was like he never missed time. The goal-scoring will come in 2018-19, and with it, some patented Tutton defense.
What a Hit:
Tutton in transition | Photo Credit: Kyle Hess
It didn’t take long for Tutton to get his game instincts back. The doubleheader weekend to start March off helped a lot, and Tutton was in fine form when Buffalo came to town on the 18th. Tutton finished the night with five loose balls and four caused turnovers, and one play in the fourth quarter demonstrated what his teammates love to see Tutton do.
The Bandits’ Josh Byrne had the ball a little over five minutes into the final quarter and tried to cut inside for a shot from the middle of the form using a quick screen. Tutton figured out Byrne’s intentions and slid immediately. He checked with his stick, disrupting the shot, dislodging the ball, and knocking Byrne clear off his feet into Bandits captain Steve Priolo.
The Swarm winning that game was the first of its six-straight the team rattled off at the end. Tutton coming into form was certainly a helpful contributor to the Swarm’s successes to cap the 2017-18 season off.
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2017-18 Player Capsules: