(Uncasville, CT) – The Georgia Swarm (7-3) lost its third game of the season – second in-a-row – on Sunday afternoon to division rival New England Black Wolves (5-6), 13-8. Georgia still retains the best record in the NLL, but now shares it with the Saskatchewan Rush. 5,324 fans saw the Black Wolves take down a relatively quiet Swarm at Mohegan Sun Arena.
The matinee game marks the end of Georgia’s two-game winless road trip, and the Swarm will return to Harrah’s Cherokee Field at Infinite Energy Arena to welcome the Calgary Roughnecks for a rematch.
Georgia held the lead for a little over five minutes in the first half before a four-goal run by New England in the second quarter gave the Black Wolves a comfortable enough lead it would hold for the remainder of the game. New England was also able to hold Georgia’s leading points-scorer Lyle Thompson to only one point (1A) in the contest.
“When we get back (to Georgia),” head coach Ed Comeau said. “we have to bring our A-game. We didn’t bring our A-game for 60 minutes tonight, and in this league, teams play pretty motivated. (Evan Kirk) played well and made some big saves, and that was the difference down the stretch.”
New England’s Jay Thorimbert got things started in the first quarter before Shayne Jackson fed the ball to former Black Wolves player Jordan Hall to tie it up. New England would dominate the time of possession early, but Mike Poulin stopped 15 shots-on-goal during the quarter. His work between the pipes gave Georgia enough of a chance to settle down and take the lead off a Johnny Powless goal, and the quarter ended 2-1 Georgia.
Georgia started the second quarter off right, utilizing an extra attacker on an upcoming New England penalty. Kiel Matisz would feed the ball to Jackson on the other side of New England’s goalie Kirk for a hook-shot behind him, giving Georgia a 3-1 lead. New England would respond loudly with four unanswered goals in the next five minutes, two from Kyle Buchanan. Jackson would finally stop the Black Wolves’ run with his 20th goal of the season, but Shawn Evans later found the back of the net for the first time on Sunday. After a few more goals from both sides, the halftime buzzer would sound with the score 8-5 in New England’s favor.
The third quarter started off the same way in Georgia’s favor. John Ranagan scored against his former team nearly two minutes into the half, his fourth goal of the season. But before Georgia could capitalize on his goal, New England would go on another four-goal run which stretched into the fourth quarter, led by Evans’ hat trick.
Down 11-6 in the fourth, Georgia tried to stop New England from scoring anymore, but Kevin Crowley capped off the four-goal run New England had started in the third quarter. Powless scored his second goal of the game less than a minute later, and both teams traded possessions for roughly seven minutes. Crowley broke the ice with a power play goal to widen the lead by six. With two minutes left in regulation, Lyle recorded his only point of the game, passing to Jackson who got the hat trick. The final goal of the game, New England would successfully kill the clock and best Georgia for the first time this season, 13-8.
The Swarm, best in the league in power play and penalty killing percentages, were only able to score one goal in nine power play opportunities and allowed New England to convert half of its power play chances.
Jackson finished the night with six points (3G, 3A), and Powless had four points (2G, 2A). Both Hall and Matisz would finish with three points (1G, 2A). Poulin took nearly a shot a minute and finished with 46 saves, good for a .780 SV%.
The Swarm brought the winners of their Ultimate Fan Experience contest – Jason and Rowan Sautner – with the team to New England. The father-son duo was flown out with the team. They got to watch practice last night and were treated to a behind-the-scenes experience during the game. Jason and Rowan received custom jerseys with their names on them, and Rowan had his signed by all the players. The pair also received season tickets.
Ready to put the past two weeks behind them, Georgia will fly back home and return to Harrah’s Cherokee Field at Infinite Energy Arena for a rematch against Calgary for a St. Patrick’s Day showdown.
“It’s definitely nice to get back and play at home, get back in our dressing room, and we have the three-game stint at home,” Jackson said. “But we aren’t looking at the three games; we’re just looking at Calgary right now. That’s what we have to do. Good or bad, we have to shake it off and move on to next week. We know any team can win in this league on any given night.”
The team will be celebrating with a St. Patrick’s Day Party at The Hive. Players will be wearing special St. Patrick’s Day-themed jerseys during the game which will be available to fans via an online auction. A portion of the proceeds from jersey sales will go towards Bert’s Big Adventure. Early arriving fans can receive a special “Take A Seat” poster, and select Swarm players and mascot Stinger will be available post-game for autographs. Tickets are available by calling 844-4-GASWARM or by visiting GeorgiaSwarm.com/StPatricks.
Play of the Game:
Ranagan gets the honors tonight. Against the team that cut him late in training camp, Ranagan scored the first goal in the third quarter. Bryan Cole tied up two Black Wolves, leaving Ranagan an open lane. He faded to his right and fooled Kirk into dropping down, thinking the shot would come low. Instead, Ranagan shot it right above Kirk’s helmet, his fourth goal of the season. 10 games in and Ranagan has already tied his career-high in goals, a record he set back in 2014 with the Philadelphia Wings.
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