DULUTH, GA. – As it prepares for its first-ever Champion’s Cup, the Georgia Swarm is collecting some hardware. Inside Lacrosse (ILIndoor) announced its results for NLL GM of the Year and Coach of the Year, naming John Arlotta GM of the Year on Tuesday, May 23 and Ed Comeau Coach of the Year on Wednesday, May 24.
Georgia finished with a league-best 13-5 record, clinched the No. 1 playoff seed, and set a new NLL record in goals with 266. The Swarm swept the Toronto Rock in the East Division Finals on the way to its first-ever appearance in the Champion’s Cup.
ILIndoor votes annually in nine separate categories for the top performers in the NLL. The organization’s nine writers vote for up to five candidates in every category, designating points for each vote on a 5-4-3-2-1 basis.
Arlotta came in first place with 33 total points—20 1st place votes, 12 2nd place votes, and one 5th place vote. According to the release, “The ability to draft well, along with the eye for key trades and key signings is what makes Arlotta the General Manager of the Year for ILIndoor.”
Arlotta built a team which in 2017 floored 15 first-round picks (16 with Jesse King on the Injured List for the entire season). In the 2016 NLL Draft, he selected Bryan Cole and Connor Sellars in the first round, and both have contributed greatly during the 2017 season. Arlotta selected Leo Stouros in the second round, and Liam Byrnes in the fifth. Stouros has helped boost the defense in his 11 games played, and Byrnes has made an impact in his two games.
Looking to shore up between the pipes, Arlotta signed free agent Mike Poulin to a three-year contract. Arlotta re-signed forwards Miles Thompson, Jerome Thompson, and Johnny Powless during the offseason. With King out for the season, Arlotta traded for left-handed forward Jordan Hall and a second-round selection in the 2019 NLL Draft from the New England Black Wolves. Never stopping to improve his team, Arlotta picked up defenseman John Ranagan on Dec. 19 after he was cut from New England just days before the final rosters were announced to help on the back end.
“Organizations win,” Arlotta said. “This award is a reflection of the performance of the entire organization including players, coaches, and lacrosse and business operations.”
Comeau placed first also with 33 total points—20 1st place votes, eight 2nd place votes, three 3rd place votes, and two 4th place votes.
ILIndoor’s Graeme Perrow explained his reasoning for voting for Comeau, “Comeau had to balance making sure his players stuck to his plan while letting his dynamic offense get out there and do their thing. With only five losses and nine games with 15+ goals, clearly his balancing act was successful.”
After going 8-10 in 2016 and losing in the first round of the playoffs, Comeau coached the youngest team in the NLL to a 13-5 record and the franchise’s first-ever Champion’s Cup appearance. His offense set a new NLL record for most goals scored in a season (266), and the defense flourished, having allowed 10 or less goals in seven regular season games and its two postseason games against the Toronto Rock. Georgia was also the first offense to feature seven forwards with more than 50 points in a regular season. Comeau coached the Swarm to a victory against every other NLL team in 2017, the only team to accomplish this feat this season.
“These awards are team awards,” Comeau said. “Our success as a team, players, staff and coaches puts us in consideration for these awards. As a group, there is only one award we are interested in and we continue to work together to try to bring a Championship to the Swarm organization.”
Game 1 of the Champion’s Cup—best of three—will be hosted by Georgia at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Field at Infinite Energy Arena on Sunday, June 4. Faceoff is set for 5:05 p.m. ET. Lower level seats start as low as $20. Tickets are available by calling 844-4-GASWARM or by visiting GeorgiaSwarm.com/Playoff. Georgia will take on the two-time defending champion Saskatchewan Rush. Game 2 will take place at SaskTel Centre on June 10 at 9:30 p.m. ET, and, if needed, Game 3 will be back at The Hive on Sunday, June 18 at 5:05 p.m. ET.
Ed Comeau. Photo Credit: Kyle Hess