(Duluth, GA) – Following a thrilling 18-10 home opener victory against the two-time defending champion Saskatchewan Rush, the Georgia Swarm will travel to KeyBank Center on Saturday, Jan. 14 to take on the Buffalo Bandits, last year's runner-up in the Champion's Cup.
Faceoff is set for 7:30 p.m. EST. Fans can catch the game Live via NLLTV.com (paid subscription is required).
Georgia ran over Saskatchewan this past Saturday on Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Field at the Infinite Energy Arena. After the Swarm led 4-3 at the end of the first quarter, Saskatchewan opened up a 7-4 lead against Georgia. Big free agent signing Mike Poulin was switched in between the pipes, and Georgia responded on both ends of the floor. Over the next 14 minutes, the Swarm scored seven unanswered goals to build an 11-7 advantage.
Georgia’s offense had nine different players score goals while offseason acquisition Jordan Hall recorded six assists. The Swarm also went 5-for-10 on man-up situations in addition to scoring three shorthand goals.
“I can’t say enough about the guys on offense,” assistant captain Shayne Jackson (4G, 2A) said last Saturday. “It’s good when everyone’s contributing. That’s what we’re going to need all year. It’s not going to be just one guy. It’s going to be all five of us going at once.”
Now Georgia turns to the best team in the East Division in 2016. The Buffalo Bandits were tied with the Rush for the best record in the NLL at 13-5. Their dominant offense led them through the postseason where they ultimately fell to Saskatchewan in the Champion’s Cup Final.
In 2016, Georgia and Buffalo played against each other three times with Buffalo taking the season series, 2-1. Oddly enough, both teams won against the other on the road; the Swarm handed the Bandits their only home loss of the season.
“When you start thinking you’ve got this league figured out, that’s exactly when you realize you don’t,” Swarm head coach Ed Comeau said about the trend. “As to why that happened, who knows? We’re hoping that trend continues at least for this weekend.”
Buffalo had an early bye week in Week 2 of the NLL season, resting and preparing for two weeks after failing to overcome the Mammoth challenge during their season opener.
The Bandits will be sending out their strong offense, led by Dhane Smith who set a NLL single-season scoring record with 137 points and a league-record 72 goals in 2016. Ryan Benesch and Mark Steenhuis also returned for the season, a trident attack which dominated to the tune of 300 points (145G, 156A) last year, nearly half of Buffalo’s season total.
The Colorado Mammoth did stymie this offense at Buffalo’s home opener two weeks ago, and Buffalo will be doing everything they can to make sure this does not happen a second home game in a row.
“Guys like Dhane Smith and Mark Steenhuis and Ryan Benesch, Mitch Jones, those guys are pretty deadly scorers,” Comeau said. “A week like last week is the exception rather than the norm for them. We expect them to be at the form they were at in the past.”
Georgia will be ready to compete, looking to prove that their opening performance against Saskatchewan was not an aberration. They will need more of that patented Swarm unselfishness to keep the Bandits off their game.
Broadcast Info: Fans can catch the game LIVE via NLL.com. Subscriptions can be purchased at NLLTV.com. An all-access 2017 season pass costs $34.95 (US) and $39.95 (Canada), while an individual team pass for the year costs $24.95 (US) and $29.95 (Canada).
Young Guns: Four Swarm rookies took the floor against the Rush. Bryan Cole, the No.4 overall draft pick in the 2016 NLL Draft, scored his first professional goal in the third quarter. The first shorthand goal of the season for the Swarm, Cole’s score was the last one needed to seal the deal against the Rush, but seven more insurance goals worked out just as well.
World Record Solidified: The Thompson Brothers set a Guinness World Record when all four played in a professional lacrosse game. Miles Thompson (4G, 1A), Lyle Thompson (2G, 6A), and Jerome Thompson (1G, 1A) took the floor in blue and yellow as Jerome Thompson went 15-for-24 in faceoff opportunities for the Rush. This rare feat was the talk of the lacrosse world for weeks, and it did not disappoint.
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