After a come-from-behind home win against the Vancouver Warriors, the Georgia Swarm will take to the road to attempt to continue their winning ways. There was a lot to like about last Saturday’s game for the men in blue and yellow, but there’s also work to be done. So while players recuperate and stay in shape and coaches work on improving the Swarm day in and day out, we get to look ahead at Jan. 12. And there’s no two ways around it; this Saturday is going to be chock full of excitement for the Swarm.
Georgia plays the Philadelphia Wings for the first time, it’ll be reunited with a few former Swarm faces, Swarm head coach Ed Comeau will be participating in LaxCon, and, oh yeah, Georgia could be 4-0 after this weekend (don’t jinx it). The confidence from a fourth-straight win would help the Swarm stay energized during their…
10 GAMES IN SEVEN WEEKS
From Dec. 28 to Feb. 16, the Swarm has a game every week. Two of those weeks have doubleheaders. So starting from that game in 2018 against Toronto until Georgia takes on Colorado on Feb. 16, the Swarm have a game a week and a doubleheader twice. That’s 10 games in seven weeks.
During that span, it’ll be important for Swarm players to stay healthy, rested and ready for each game. There are no real opportunities to relax during this gauntlet, and the doubleheaders will add to that pressure. Swarm players will need to take care of their bodies and minds over the next month and a half. Doing that will help them handle the rigors of a rather strenuous stretch of schedule.
First thing’s first, however. Georgia has to concentrate on Philadelphia and its…
An expansion team is going to be made up of a few former players, but Philadelphia has six former Georgia players that have seen time this season.
The Wings team captain is forward Kiel Matisz, and forward Jordan Hall was named an assistant captain. Both were picked by Philadelphia in the 2018 NLL Expansion Draft, Matisz No. 3 overall and Hall No. 5 overall. Transition player Frank Brown (picked by the Swarm No. 24 overall in the 2017 Entry Draft) was also selected from the Knighthawks roster after he joined Rochester halfway through last season. Defensemen Brayden Hill (No. 25 overall in the 2016 Entry Draft) and Liam Byrnes (No. 44 overall in the 2016 Entry Draft) and transition player Adam Osika (No. 59 overall in the 2017 Entry Draft) all signed with the Wings over the offseason. They’ve all played at least one of the Wings’ three games this season.
They’ll have their hands full at gametime, especially trying to crack the Swarm’s…
Let’s start from the posts and work our way forward.
Standing between them is Mike Poulin, the only undefeated NLL goalie to have spent every second in front of the net for his team. Poulin is currently second in the NLL in GAA with a 10.33 GAA. His .797 SV% is the third-best in the league.
In front of him is a Swarm defense with the second-lowest GA/GAME in the league at 10.33. The Swarm defense is the only one that has held an opponent scoreless in a quarter twice this season, in the second quarter against the Black Wolves and the fourth quarter against the Warriors.
Two rookies are making some noise in the scoring department. Adam Wiedemann is tied for second on the NLL defense scoring leaderboard, tied with Rock captain Challen Rogers at five points (1G, 4A).
The Swarm’s penalty kill unit is putting in good work against opponents so far. Georgia is killing 61.5% of its penalties. After a season-high six penalties in their Home Opener, the Swarm have only committed six penalties since then (John Ranagan’s 5 min. major for elbowing was rescinded after the game against Toronto).
At the faceoff circle, the Swarm are putting up their highest faceoff win percentage in Georgia, having gone 43-for-82 (52.44%).
A strong all-around defensive effort is paramount for the Swarm to come away with the win on Saturday, that and shutting down…
Matisz has taken to his new role as team captain easily (no surprise considering he was a captain at Robert Morris University) and is leading by example whenever he can. While he sits second on the Wings with 11 points (2G, 9A), the Hamilton, Ontario native has been very active out the back door, tied for the lead on the team in caused turnovers with six.
Last weekend against Toronto, Matisz had his best game of the season so far. He record four points (2G, 2A), scooped up 10 loose balls and caused an astounding five turnovers. Matisz is still bumping and crashing out there on the offense, setting big picks for his teammates. With the Wings trading for Kevin Crowley, who had 51 goals last season, how the Swarm handles Matisz will help mitigate the damage Crowley can do.
Philly has plenty of weapons on its offense outside of Matisz and Crowley, but the same can be said for Georgia. For a fourth-straight win, the Swarm needs those weapons to…
Georgia’s offense is currently posting a 12.67 GF/GAME. Defense has kept the Swarm ahead of opponents in games, and individual players are willing the team to a win. But the Swarm knows that their offense isn’t where it can be.
Part of that is because the team is still trying to gel together offensively. Comeau said it best:
“(W)e’ve got roughly two to three guys on any given night that weren’t in our offense last year on our offense this year. There are going to be some times where we have a little bit of a learning curve with those guys just figuring stuff out, and they’re figuring each other out. That’s going to take some time…”
The Swarm’s offense is built upon freeness and creativity. When they’re trying to force something to happen and bunch up, then shots either swing wide or straight at the logo on the goaltender’s chest.
Moving their feet, swinging the ball around, highlight reel goals that they make look as easy as breathing, that’s what the Swarm offense is made of. The Wings are an opportunity for the Swarm to start having fun together and get back to clicking on offense, the same way the Swarm O clicked during the last six games of 2017-18 and the entire 2017 season.
The Swarm head to the City of Brotherly Love for their first game against the Philadelphia Wings on Saturday, Jan. 12. Faceoff is set for 7:00 p.m. ET. Fans can catch the game on the B/R Live app available through iTunes, Google Play, Apple TV, Roku and Amazon Fire.
Georgia returns on Sunday, Jan. 27 to take on the Saskatchewan Rush. Faceoff is set for 4:05 p.m. ET. Billed as the Meeting of the Champions presented by IceByrd Frozen Yogurt, the last two teams to win an NLL World Championship will meet for the only time this regular season.
Early arriving fans can receive a Stinger Snowglobe. Tickets are available at GeorgiaSwarm.com/Champions or by calling 844-4-GASWARM.