The Georgia Swarm (9-4) dictated the pace and achieved redemption with a 14-9 win against the Buffalo Bandits (10-3) at KeyBank Center. Saturday’s Swarm win in front of 15,061 fans tightened the gap between the two teams, and the Swarm became the first team all season to hold the Bandits to single digits in goals.
Eight different Swarm players found the back of the net, and Saturday’s win marked the first time all season the Swarm scored two shorthanded goals. Defensively, the Swarm penalty kill stopped the home team from scoring on five of seven power play opportunities.
“We played well,” Swarm head coach Ed Comeau said. “It was a solid team effort. Our goaltending was good, our special teams were good, our defense was good, and our transition was good. Everything was good, and that’s what you need to do against Buffalo. It was a solid, team effort. We made a lot of good decisions, and we played really well.
“We won the special teams game, which is something we want to do every night. Great effort by our man-short and Mike Poulin.”
Swarm captain Jordan MacIntosh became the seventh player in NLL history to win 1500 faceoffs after his 10-for-19 night at the draw.
“A number of those faceoff wins were clean wins that he had, I’m sure, of those 1500, but a lot of those were incredible battles,” Comeau said. “That just goes to show how hard he works. He’s our captain; he leads by example, coming up with those loose balls and doing a great job. It’s a great accomplishment for him, and it just goes to show what a complete player MacIntosh is.”
Finding themselves man-up early in the game, the Swarm took advantage with Holden Cattoni making a great feed to Shayne Jackson for the power play goal. The two teams traded quick blows before the Swarm were on the penalty kill halfway through the quarter.
Special teams immediately widened the gap for the Swarm with Bryan Cole and Chad Tutton scoring shorthanded goals to put the visiting team up 4-2.
“It gets everybody really excited,” Poulin said. “Worst case scenario, they (the Bandits) score one, and we’re even on the situation. When you see that excitement come out of our guys when we score a shorthanded goal, it can’t help but make you feel like, ‘Let’s not settle for even here. Let’s go plus one.’”
Zed Williams and Brendan Bomberry tacked on two more before the Bandits responded at the end of the quarter. The goalies switched nets with the Swarm up 6-3.
“Getting the jump on the team on the road in front of a big crowd is a great thing for us, but we just stuck to the game plan,” Comeau said. “That was a really important thing for our guys to do tonight.”
The two teams traded blows in the second quarter, and the offensive action was highlighted by wicked behind-the-back goal from Miles Thompson. The Swarm spent a good portion of the quarter on the penalty kill, managing to waste the Bandits’ power play after they benefitted from a 5-min. Swarm major and a 5-on-3 situation. When both teams headed to the locker rooms, the Swarm were up 8-5.
Coming back from the locker room, the Swarm controlled the rest of the game. The Bandits finally managed to break through on the power play courtesy of Dhane Smith, but the Swarm answered back thanks to Randy Staats. Jordan Durston recorded the Bandits’ second power play goal of the night. Lyle Thompson received a slick pass from Jackson as he was cutting up the middle to widen the Swarm’s lead back to three goals. Staats’ hat trick capped the quarter, the Swarm up 11-7.
The Swarm continued their scoring into the final 15 minutes as Miles, Jackson and Bomberry all found the back of the net. Bomberry’s came after he exited the penalty box and received a long outlet pass from Poulin, resulting in Bomberry’s second goal of the night and Poulin’s third assist of the game.
Thomas Hoggarth and Durston had the final says of the night, but it was too little too late. The Swarm ran out the clock, earning redemption against the Bandits with their 14-9 win.
Jackson led the Swarm in points with six (2G, 4A). Lyle (1G, 3A) and Staats (3G, 1A) followed up with four points each. Poulin made 41 saves to finish the night with an .820 SV%.
For the Bandits, Smith led the team with five points (3G, 2A), followed by Durston with four points (2G, 2A). Goaltender Matt Vinc earned his first loss of the season after making 38 saves on 52 SOG, a .731 SV%.
“We finally played a full 60-minute game,” Poulin said. “Our special teams and our defense, everything was clicking tonight, so it feels really good to win that way.”
The Swarm continue their road trip in New York. They head to Blue Cross Arena to take on the Rochester Knighthawks (2-8) for the third and final time this season. The Knighthawks made a number of roster moves while on the bye week, and the Swarm know not to let the recent Knighthawks’ trades and record lull them into a false sense of security.
“This is the best lacrosse league in the world, so no matter who they bring out to play, we’ll be a tough opponent,” Poulin said. “We’re not going to take this lineup lightly. That would be an incredible mistake; just, there’s too many good lacrosse players out there. We’ll show that team respect, we’ll prepare for whoever they bring out, and we’ll be ready to go.”
Faceoff for Friday, March 15 is set for 7:30 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.
After the third and final game of the season against the Knighthawks, 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.