The Georgia Swarm (8-4) kept calm against a Rochester Knighthawks (2-8) team playing to keep their season alive, winning 15-11 on Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Field at Infinite Energy Arena on Saturday.
In front of 8,410 fans, the second-largest crowd in team history, the Swarm used a seven-goal run in the third quarter to bury the visiting team and bounce back into the win column after the bye week. Every member of the Swarm’s offense scored, with Zed Williams, Bryan Cole and Randy Staats all recording hat tricks.
“That’s the type of night we need from our offense where everyone is contributing, whether it’s scoring, setting picks,” Swarm head coach Ed Comeau said. “It was good, but we need to bring that consistency moving forward. We’ve played well against Rochester twice, but we need to play well on every night like that.”
Georgia and Rochester traded goals throughout the first half of the game. The Swarm built up a 4-2 lead thanks to a three-goal run in the middle of the first quarter, but the Knighthawks tied things up thanks to an extra attacker goal from Pat Saunders and a power play goal from Kyle Jackson.
The Knighthawks continued to widen the lead into the second quarter, but the Swarm kept right with them. Cole tied the game 7-7 after cutting across the crease and receiving a slick feed from Shayne Jackson. The Swarm headed to the locker room to make adjustments for the second half of the game.
“At halftime, we just reviewed the goals we gave up, and we said there were at least a few of them that were preventable,” Comeau said.
“I think we were having some good success on offense running what we were trying to run,” Cole said. “I think our shooting percentage got a little better, and I think we were taking better shots and working for better shots, and then obviously on the back end we were covering up transitions, stuff like that.”
Those adjustments paid off as the Swarm outscored the Knighthawks 8-4 in the last 30 minutes. Saunders’ hat trick on the power play was the last lead of the night for the visiting team as the Swarm rattled off seven-straight goals, the most goals the team has scored in a single quarter all season long.
Williams kicked it off with his second diving goal of the night, followed 20 seconds later by Jackson on the power play. Jackson’s goal was the 200th goal of his career.
“It feels good,” Jackson said about achieving the personal marker. “I’ve been lucky to play with very good teammates and have really good coaches help me out along the way. I’m just a small part of it; I’m not stupid to think it’s just me. Every teammate I’ve had and played with, it’s thanks to them also.”
Staats responded 30 seconds later with his second of the night, Holden Cattoni fired in a rocket on the power play, Staats netted his hat trick, and Jordan MacIntosh scored an empty netter off a feed from Cole.
Miles Thompson capped the run after receiving a pass from Lyle Thompson and scoring right on the edge of the crease. The third quarter ended with the Swarm up 14-8.
Saunders netted his fourth goal of the night with another power play goal. Cole retaliated by running parallel to the net and whipping his hat trick goal in from his hip. Stephen Keogh and Cody Jamieson had the last words of the night, but the Swarm prevailed with a 15-11 win.
“Being in the position they’ve been in before in previous years, we know they’re scratching and clawing to get back into this thing, and we knew that they were going to give us their best,” Jackson said. “It was going to be a big battle, and that’s exactly what it was. It was hard-hitting and fast-paced, but that makes for good lacrosse. We had a good crowd tonight, and I thought it was a great game.”
Lyle led the Swarm with seven (1G, 6A) points, followed by Cole (3G, 3A) with the best game of his career so far. Jackson and Cattoni ended the night with five points (1G, 4A) apiece, and Williams and Staats both finished with four points (3G, 1A).
Mike Poulin made 45 saves on 56 SOG, finishing the night with an 11 GAA and an .804 SV%.
For the Knighthawks, Austin Shanks led the team with six points (1G, 5A), and Saunders tacked on an assist to his four goals. Angus Goodleaf was chased from net 41:13 min. in after allowing 14 GA on 32 SOG, an 20.38 GAA and .563 SV%. Warren Hill closed out the game between the pipes for Rochester and blocked all 21 shots.
The Swarm head north for a rematch against the Buffalo Bandits (9-2) on Saturday, March 9. Faceoff at KeyBank Center is set for 7:30 p.m. ET.
“Buffalo is playing well,” Comeau said. “They’re the top team in the East right now, so we know when you go up there that you’re going to have a tough game and big crowds. We just need to be consistent. That’s the focus we talked about, just being consistent shift to shift. We gave up a really large run of goals against them here, and you just can’t do that against a good team. Our focus is going to be trying to play with good tempo but really play smart and try to limit their opportunities.”
After the third and final game of the season against the Knighthawks on March 15, the Swarm return home on Friday, March 22 to take on the Toronto Rock. Faceoff is set for 7:35 p.m. ET. The Swarm are hosting Faith and Family Night presented by Howard Brothers Hardware.
North Point InsideOut Band will perform during halftime and postgame in the Swarm’s Goal Zone Club. Early-arriving fans can receive a Light-Up Swarm Foam Stick. Fans can get their tickets at GeorgiaSwarm.com/FaithAndFamilyNight or by calling 844-4-GASWARM.