DULUTH, Ga. (December 1, 2022) – The Georgia Swarm is back in action this Saturday, December 3 in Gas South Arena as they host the Rochester Knighthawks on opening day. The Swarm take their first faceoff of the 2022-23 NLL season on Harrah’s Cherokee Casino and Resort floor at 8:00 PM ET.
The Swarm landed a home opener on opening weekend for the second-straight season. In the last five seasons, Georgia hosted three home openers on opening day: Saskatchewan Rush (2017), New England BlackWolves [Albany FireWolves] (2019), and Colorado Mammoth (2022), holding a 2-1 record on opening day at home (Won: Rush, BlackWolves; Lost: Mammoth).
Since 2017, the Swarm are 3-2 on opening night, most recently falling to Colorado (16-11; 12/4/22). Before dropping to the Mammoth, Georgia was on a two-game opening day winning streak, topping Rochester (14-4; 11/30/19) and New England (16-12; 12/15/18). In the last five home openers, the Swarm combined for 70 goals, scoring a high of 18 against the Rush on Jan. 7, 2017.
The Swarm is 3-0 all-time against the new-aged Rochester Knighthawks. Last season, the Swarm and Knighthawks met twice, with Georgia claiming the win both times. In the first matchup, 10 different Swarm players netted goals, securing a 12-8 team victory on the road. The second time they met was a nailbiter as Shayne Jackson clinched the game-winning goal in overtime to squeeze by Rochester, 17-16.
The high-powered Swarm offense is once again led by Jackson, Lyle Thompson, and Brendan Bomberry and accompanied by new faces in Andrew Kew and Ryan Lanchbury. Last season, the Swarm ranked fourth in league goals scored, netting 205 (11.39 per game). The team was led by Lyle Thompson’s 47 goals which ranked tied for first in the NLL.
Last season, Georgia’s strong backline ranked third in penalty kills, stopping 40-of-74 (62.2 percent) power plays. The team returns eight defenders, led by captains Jordan MacIntosh and Bryan Cole. The backline added some new faces in Mike Manley and 2022 NLL Draft Selection Brett Beetow.
After Swarm standout netminder Mike Poulin retired over the summer, Craig Wende steps up in net to command the Georgia defense. The Swarm re-acquired Wende at the beginning of last season in a deal with Rochester. Throughout the ‘21-22 season, Wende played 118.02 minutes throughout 5 games, totaling 83 saves, a 10.67 goals-against average and a .798 save percentage. Saturday marks Wende’s first start in a Swarm uniform as he faces his former team.
Prior to faceoff, the Swarm invite fans to celebrate the honoring of four recent Georgia retirees: Mitch Belisle, Jordan Hall, Joel White, and Mike Poulin. Help us raise a ceremonial banner in their honor, as these four Swarm idols led the franchise to its first-ever NLL Champions Cup.
News and Notes
Last Time We Took the Field (April 30, 2022):
- Georgia fell 11-10 in overtime to the Philadelphia Wings, knocking the Swarm out of a playoff spot for the first time in five seasons
- The Swarm outshot the Wings 63-43 with Lyle Thompson and Steph Leblanc taking the most on the team with 13 and 12, respectfully
- Georgia converted 2-of-4 power play opportunities while the defense stopped 1-of-3 man-up situations against the Wings
- Lyle Thompson led the squad in points and assists, notching five and three, respectfully
- Shayne Jackson and Brendan Bomberry recorded four points each, as Jackson landed one goal between the net and Bomberry netted two
- TJ Comizio scored the tying goal in thrilling fashion to send the game into overtime and also scooped up a team-high 12 loose balls
- Comizio led the defense in caused turnovers, forcing four, while Adam Wiedemann followed with two
Last Time We Faced Rochester (March 4, 2022):
- The Swarm secured a 17-16 overtime win after Shayne Jackson clinched the golden goal
- Georgia outshot Rochester 57-47 while winning 20-of-36 (55 percent) faceoffs
- Both teams combined for 12 goals scored in the second quarter; Georgia scored 7-of the-12
- Jackson led the squad in goals and points, totaling five goals and three assists, for eight points
- Lyle Thompson ended the game second on the team in goals and assists, landing four between the pipes and giving out three assists
- Brendan Bomberry, Jordan MacIntosh, and Adam Wiedemann tallied three points each; Wiedemann also led the team in caused turnovers, forcing three
- TJ Comizio went 7-for-13 (53.8 percent) in faceoffs while totaling one goal and one assist
- Georgia returns 12 players from the 2021-22 season, totaling four veteran forwards, seven defenders and netminder Craig Wende
- Eleven new faces join the Swarm squad including 2021 NLL draft pick Ryan Lanchbury and 2022 NLL draft selection Brett Dobson
- Newcomers, Andrew Kew and Mike Manley might be Swarm rookies, but they both have experience in the NLL. Kew most recently played with the Albany FireWolves as Manley last played with the New York Riptide
- Craig Wende returns in net this season after playing in five games, totaling 83 saves, a .798 save percentage, and a 10.67 goals against average last season
- Georgia added some depth in transition after signing Jeremy Thompson, who steps up to take faceoffs; last season Thompson totaled a 52 percent clip at the dot
- Georgia sees Zach Miller rejoin the squad this year. Miller was a part of the shortened 2019-20 Swarm roster
- Since joining the league in 2016, Lyle averages 2.16 goals, 3.5 assists, and 5.67 points on opening night. During the 2019-20 season opener against Rochester, Lyle recorded 4 goals and 3 assists
- Tonight marks Craig Wende’s first start in a Georgia Swarm uniform, starting against his former team, the Rochester Knighthawks
- Georgia is 3-0 all-time against the Rochester Knighthawks
- The Swarm defeated the Knighthawks by 10 in the 2019-20 season opener, holding them to only four goals scored (14-4)
- Eyes will be on newcomers Andrew Kew (former Albany Firewolves) and Ryan Lanchbury (2021 NLL First-Round Draft Selection) to make a splash on offense
- Shayne Jackson only played in one game against Rochester last season, totaling eight points (5G, 3A) in a single outing
- Defensive force Adam Wiedemann is back after totaling 15 blocked shots, 19 caused turnovers and 109 loose balls during the 2021-22 season
- New signee Jeremy Thompson steps up to take faceoffs for the Swarm after winning 199-of-383 (52 percent) last season with Panther City Lacrosse Club
Eyes on the Knighthawks:
- Rochester acquired offensive threat Connor Fields from the Buffalo Bandits in the offseason; Fields totaled 32 goals and 35 assists for 67 points during the 2021-22 season
- The Knighthawks return Ryan Smith who had a breakout rookie season, leading the team in goals with 35; in addition, Smith totaled 24 assists, 59 points, and 67 loose balls
- The team’s 2021-22 leader in points, Holden Cattoni, returns in Rochester threads this season; lasts year, Cattoni recorded 63 points, 27 goals, and 36 assists
- Rylan Hartley suits back up with the squad after playing nine games in net last season; Hartley saved 312 shots while producing a .770 save percentage and a 12.29 goals against average
- Defender Dan Coates blocked 14 shots last season, collecting 109 loose balls, and causing 23 turnovers
- Brendan Bomberry needs 13 points to reach 100 career points
- Jordan MacIntosh Needs one faceoff win to pass Stephen Hoar for sixth place in league history with 1651.
- Jordan MacIntosh needs two points to reach 400 career points
- Jeremy Thompson needs five faceoff wins to become the fourth player in league history to reach 2,000 in his career
- Shayne Jackson needs to give out eight assists to achieve 400 career assists
- Andrew Kew needs to score two goals to reach 50 career goals
- Bryan Cole needs seven points to achieve 100 career points
- Lyle Thompson needs six assists to reach 300 in his career.
Where to Watch:
- Gas South Arena – Get tickets for as low as $15 to the home opener
- ESPN+ – Use your ESPN+ account (or create a new one) to watch the game live Saturday, December 3, 2022, and all season long
- Watch in person at six Gwinnett County Taco Mac locations: Buford, Cumming, Duluth, Johns Creek, Lawrenceville & Suwanee