It was another thrilling game between the Georgia Swarm (2-0) and Toronto Rock (1-1), but the Swarm were able to secure their second win of the season off some last-second heroics from Lyle Thompson.
Lyle scored his fourth goal of the night with 23.2 seconds left to put the Swarm up 12-11 in Scotiabank Arena. Friday night’s win marks Georgia’s fourth-straight win in Toronto since 2016. Randy Staats achieved some personal history when he scored his 100th career goal in the fourth quarter.
“Lyle, just – every time you think you’ve seen him do everything, he does something different,” Swarm head coach Ed Comeau said. “He’s a hard guy to play against and makes everyone else around him better. There are some nights when you need that one guy to take control and make things happen. Some nights, it’s Randy. Some nights, it’s Lyle. Some nights, it’s Shayne Jackson. But Lyle was great tonight and did so many little things, as well, to contribute to the victory.”
While Tom Schreiber broke the ice in the game and Rob Hellyer scored an extra attacker goal quickly, the Swarm stormed back with five unanswered goals. Holden Cattoni scored back-to-back before Adam Wiedemann recorded his first NLL career goal. After 15 min., the Swarm were up 3-2.
Lyle kicked off the scoring in the second quarter with his first of the night. Jordan MacIntosh shouldered past his defender for a shorthanded goal before the Rock tied things with three-straight goals. Lyle and Zed Williams would each net a goal to put the Swarm up 7-5 at halftime.
The Rock refused to go away, and the second half became a battle of attrition. Schreiber and Kieran McArdle tied the game up before Bryan Cole gave Georgia the lead again with his first goal of the season. With only one quarter left in the game, the Swarm were up 8-7.
Former Swarm forward Johnny Powless snagged a rebound and scored a goal off a pirouette to tie things up once again. Staats made a five-hole shot that resulted in his 100th career NLL goal, then Connor Sellars scored in transition to give the Swarm their largest lead since halftime.
Unfortunately, the Rock went on a run of their own, scoring three goals in a little over five minutes to put themselves up 11-10. Swarm goaltender Mike Poulin fell hurt to the ground roughly halfway through the quarter but stayed between the pipes.
“Poulie’s our rock back there,” MacIntosh said. “As long as we’re forcing it down the sides, he pretty much mops up all the shots, and he always makes the saves that are just kind of wow saves. Seeing him go down there was a little scary, but he came back and had some huge saves down the stretch.”
Hellyer’s fifth goal of the night would be the last one Toronto scored.
Strong Swarm defense and Lyle helped carry the Swarm to their second win of the season. He tied things at 11 with his second jumping goal of the night. After a missed penalty shot that was deflected by the crossbar, the Swarm found themselves with under a minute to break the logjam. Lyle cut to the middle of the offensive zone, wound up and shot so hard he fell forward, scoring the game-winner with 23.2 seconds left.
“I just want to go on the record and say we’re very upset he didn’t score on the penalty shot,” Comeau joked.
Georgia won the final faceoff of the night and killed the clock for its fourth-straight win at Scotiabank Arena and fifth-straight win against Toronto, a heart-stopping 12-11 victory.
Lyle’s five points (4G, 1A) led the Swarm in scoring. Cattoni (2G, 2A) and Wiedemann (1G, 3A) both recorded four points. Poulin earned his second win of the season after making 45 saves on 56 SOG, an .803 SV%.
For the Rock, Hellyer led the team in points with 10 (5G, 5A). McArdle followed with six points (2G, 4A), and Schreiber had five points (2G, 3A). Goaltender Nick Rose made 43 saves on 54 SOG for a .782 SV%.
Even with Lyle accounting for a third of the Swarm’s goals Friday night, eight different Swarm players found the back of the net.
“We work on transition opportunities a lot in practice,” MacIntosh said. “Some games, you’re going to have four or five goals from the backend, and some games, you’re not. We just focus on when we get up there, making sure we’re making smart decisions, we’re getting good opportunities, burying our chances. I think we did a good job of that tonight.”
The Swarm’s next game is Saturday, Jan. 5 against the Vancouver Warriors (1-2). After their own thrilling win in their Season Opener, the Warriors have been outscored by a combined 12 goals in their two losses and will be looking to get back to .500 in the new year.
“After losing two, they’re going to come hungry,” Comeau said. “For us, it’s as we said before the season: the focus is really on us and to make sure we’re doing the things we need to do. We’ll put together a scouting plan, and hopefully the boys come rested and ready to go Saturday night.”
The Swarm will be hosting Country Night presented by Georgia Lottery, multi-platinum selling singer-songwriter Jerrod Niemann will perform a halftime and postgame concert in the Swarm’s Goal Zone Club.
Early arriving fans will receive Swarm cowbells presented by Georgia Lottery. Lower Level Tickets to Swarm Country Night featuring Jerrod Niemann start as low as $25 and can be purchased online at GeorgiaSwarm.com/CountryNight or by calling 844-4-GASWARM.
Play of the Game:
Lyle’s first jumping goal of the night gets the honors tonight. He ran towards the tip of the crease before jumping, twisting his body in air and depositing the ball on the far side of the net. It was just one of four stellar goals that highlighted the fantastic effort from the 2017 NLL MVP.
“I always tell him this, and I don’t think there’s much disputing it. He’s the best player in the world,” MacIntosh said. “Most people look at what Lyle does offensively, but he picks up a bunch of loose balls, he cuts transition, he plays so much during a game. We lean on him a lot, and he delivers every night.”