Photo Credit: Kyle Hess
(Duluth, GA) – Losing is never easy, but the Georgia Swarm (4-1) at least has the luxury of returning to home to try and right the ship while surrounded by a crowd of blue and yellow. The New England Black Wolves (2-3) are returning to Harrah’s Cherokee Field at Infinite Energy Arena this Sat., Feb. 11, the second of four matchups between these two teams this season. Faceoff is set for 7:05 p.m. ET, and the game is presented by IceByrd Frozen Yogurt.
Georgia was unable to continue as the only unbeaten team in the NLL as the Colorado Mammoth (3-3) defeated the Swarm 14-10 last Saturday at the Pepsi Center in front of over 15,254 fans.
“Being back home after a long road trip to Vancouver and Denver has us looking forward to getting back to Georgia,” head coach Ed Comeau said. “Playing a divisional opponent, the games mean a little bit more. It’ll be a big test for us, hoping our guys can bounce back and be focused and ready to go for Saturday.”
New England is not the same team that visited The Hive three weeks ago. In their first meeting, Georgia bested New England 14-9 on Jan. 20. However, New England has turned a corner, besting the Buffalo Bandits and Rochester Knighthawks. However, both of New England’s wins have only been by one goal, decided in the final minute of the fourth quarter and in overtime.
The team will be led by a Shawn Evans (9G, 17A) who has recently caught fire, scoring 13 points (5G, 8A) in the past two games. The 2016 Goaltender of the Year Evan Kirk has been quietly putting on a show between the pipes these past two weeks, posting a 10.34 GAA and a .794 SV%.
With favorable momentum propelling New England forward, Georgia now has to do what its opponents have been doing all season: trying to stop a hot team from getting any hotter.
“I’m sure they’re anxious to get back and play us again,” Comeau said. “I don’t think they felt they were at their best when they played us in Georgia. Different teams groove and get together at different times. They’re certainly playing – from what I’ve seen – playing better than what they did when they played us. We know they’ll be hungry.”
Georgia will need everyone to return to form and stay cool and collected like in its first matchup this year against New England. The Black Wolves drew a season high 38 penalty minutes three weeks ago against Georgia.
Lyle Thompson (14G, 16A) will be their guide as he recorded his second four-goal game of the season last Saturday. His brother Miles Thompson (10g, 4A) scored two goals in Denver, one of them a slick behind-the-back shot that made SportsCenter’s Top 10 Plays for Saturday. Captain Jordan MacIntosh won 50% of his faceoffs against Colorado while collecting nine loose balls and causing three turnovers.
Randy Staats (11G, 14A) and Shayne Jackson (13G, 8A) will try and generate momentum against a New England team that held them relatively quiet three weeks ago.
Even in a loss, Georgia’s improved defense still put on a show. In the first and third quarter, Georgia held the Mammoth to only two goals for 30 minutes. Mike Poulin looks to help the defense keep those successes stringing along all game.
Ethan O’Connor had himself a big night, collecting eight loose balls and causing two turnovers. Chad Tutton also turned in a great performance, scooping up five loose balls while causing five turnovers.
As rough as any defeat is, the Georgia Swarm is still in first place in the East Division and still has the best record in the NLL. A physical win over New England will be the perfect salve as the team continues its 2017 campaign.
The Georgia Swarm is proud to partner with 680AM The Fan and Modern Luxury to host "Date Night at The Hive" this Saturday. By using the promo code DATENIGHT at GeorgiaSwarm.com/DateNight or by calling 844-4-GASWARM, you and your special someone will receive (2) Club Level Tickets, (1) Drink Voucher per ticket, access to a private pregame mixer and appetizers on the Club Level, and a dozen free cookies courtesy of Tiff's Treats, all for only $68.
The first 2,000 fans to arrive at Saturday’s game will receive a free Swarm cowbell, courtesy of IceByrd Frozen Yogurt.