Last week, the Georgia Swarm released its highly anticipated 2018-19 regular season schedule, an oasis within the desert that is the NLL offseason. In two-and-a-half months, 18 Swarm games will get underway, but those 79 days feel like any eternity still. To make the anticipation worse, this Hive Five is to take a look at five special elements of the Swarm’s 2018-19 season.
Of course, we’ll start with the Home Opener. It kicks everything off and can’t get here soon enough. As special as that is just on its own, we’d be ignoring a lot of the other awesome qualities of that night. With Saskatchewan coming to town, the NLL Season Opener will be a…
Meeting of Champions
The winner of the 2017-18 NLL Cup and winner of the 2017 NLL Cup setting the tone for the upcoming NLL season? Yes please.
The Rush has been a force in the NLL of late, having won three of the last four NLL Finals. Unfortunately for it, the Swarm is the one black mark on its record, ruining its chance at a three-peat with the Swarm’s first-ever NLL Cup in 2017. Since then, the two play each other with a certain edge, one seeking to prove that Finals sweep was a fluke, and the other seeking to validate its Cup. Both teams will come out looking to start the season on the right foot. Everyone else will get to follow their example established early in December.
Starting on the left foot | Photo Credit: Kyle Hess
Let’s not forget that all four Thompson Brothers will once again be playing in the same arena at the same time – Lyle, Miles, and Jerome for Georgia and Jeremy for Saskatchewan. The foursome already officially holds the Guinness World Record for “Most sibling to compete in the same professional lacrosse game” following the Swarm’s 2017 Home Opener, so they won’t be trumping that. But it doesn’t change the fact that getting all four together to compete is one of the better things in the NLL.
Atlanta has some more World Champion things going for it. Having the past two NLL Cup winners start the season is a fitting prelude to Atlanta hosting…
Super Bowl LIII
The first weekend of February for Atlanta is going to be busy, busy, busy.
Mercedes-Benz Stadium, home of the Atlanta Falcons, is hosting Super Bowl LIII on Sunday, Feb. 3. And the Swarm has the Friday and Saturday filled up to take us into that Sunday. Kicking off February will be a home matchup against the Black Wolves, then the Swarm heads to take on the Knighthawks for a Saturday contest.
We know who we’re pulling for to win the Lombardi Trophy (wink), and hopefully things work out perfectly for a Swarm win in ATL to complement a Brotherhood SB win.
53 Super Bowls, over a half-century of the NFL’s best deciding who’s top dog. As the NLL enters its 34th season, it reminds us that longevity and success for a sporting league takes an abundance of components, and one of those components is…
After a year and a half, we’ll get to see the Philadelphia Wings and San Diego Seals take the floor. The NLL’s two newest teams are looking to make an impact immediately in a league filled to the brim with lacrosse talent.
Georgia will get to tango with the two freshmen teams this season. The Swarm heads to the City of Brotherly Love to take on its division rival, Philadelphia, on Jan. 12. Then Wings GM and head coach Paul Day and his team will help the Swarm finish the season at Infinite Energy Arena on April 20. Swarm fans will get to see the return of former Swarm forwards Kiel Matisz and Jordan Hall, only in black and red.
Two games before the last Swarm regular season game, Seals GM and head coach Patrick Merrill and his crew play its first game ever against the Swarm on April 5.
That’s not all the new in the NLL this season. The Vancouver lacrosse club – formerly the Stealth – was purchased by the Vancouver Canucks during the summer. The club will be getting a new home (Rogers Arena), new name and new uniforms. While Georgia doesn’t get to make the long trip across the continent to see the to-be-named Vancouver team in its new home, Vancouver is coming eastward to kick off 2019 with a game on Jan. 5. Swarm fans will get to see the fresh-faced team in person early in the season.
New threads and name on the way | Photo Credit: Kyle Hess
There’s so much “new” to look forward to this season, and hopefully it leads to new intense rivalries, rekindled passion in Vancouver’s case. New is good for the NLL and the Swarm, but sometimes something familiar is good, too. That familiarity is something we can’t wait to get…
Rocking and Rolling
Including the postseason, the Toronto Rock and Georgia Swarm have faced each other four times at Infinite Energy Arena over the past two years. Three of those games were decided by one goal, and two had to be decided in overtime. No clue what causes this matchup to result in some of the best lacrosse you’ll see all year, but I do know that I love it.
It’s the kind of action that gets you standing in your seat and your heart pounding harder as the game nears its end. After the Swarm’s 14-13 OT win on Feb. 17 and 11-10 win on April 8, I swear two years were shaved off my lifespan. That April 8 game had an extra intensity to it since both teams were in the thick of a postseason race, and a loss there would make attaining a postseason berth that much more difficult. Decided in the final minute of the game, Georgia won with an authoritative dunk from Jesse King and swept the Rock in 2017-18.
Given Toronto’s lack of success against the Swarm since it moved to Georgia, you know the Rock are going to want to establish a new trend, one which favors Toronto. Unfortunately, we’re still a ways away from seeing Georgia try and prevent that narrative flipping and try and do some narrative flipping of its own against the…
Battlin’ | Photo Credit: Kyle Hess
Rochester surprised a lot of people last season, especially with how it bounced back from a six-game losing streak at the beginning of the season. Georgia started the Knighthawks on that losing streak, but it was unfortunately the only game the Swarm would win against its division rival.
The Knighthawks went on to win the next two contests against the Swarm, and when you add in the postseason, Rochester won three of its four games in 2017-18 against Georgia.
That does not sit well with the Swarm coaches and players. This season, the two teams meet up three times: Saturday, Feb. 2 at Blue Cross Arena; Sunday, March 3 at Infinite Energy Arena; and Friday, March 15 at Blue Cross Arena.
Obviously, Georgia’s seeking a season series sweep, but that March 3 game in Georgia will have more significance added to it than the other two in New York. In addition to being the Swarm’s only Sunday game all season, a win helps alleviate the sting of having Rochester ended Georgia’s chances at repeating as NLL champs on its home turf. Between that and the Knighthawks being the East Division Champions, Georgia will be playing for pride, to send a message that it can compete against the reigning division champs, and with a little bit of sporting vengeance sprinkled in the mix.
There’s so much to look forward to for the Swarm this upcoming season. And as much as we’d all like for time to speed up, there’s still…
79 days left in the offseason
C’mon, get here. Ugh…
A little bonus Quick Sting. It’s just two-and-a-half months until the season starts, but the time between now and Dec. 1 seems almost as vast as the Grand Canyon. You wake up every day and are excited that the season is one day closer, but it’s much like waiting in line at the DMV. That excitement is quickly dashed as you realize that the number they just called is in the double digits and your ticket has four numbers on it. So, before the offseason blues leaves us listless in our chairs, let’s look at what’s left in the NLL preseason.
First is the 2018 NLL Entry Draft on Sept. 25. Taking place at Xfinity Live! in Philly at 6:00 p.m. ET, it will welcome in the newest crop of NLL rookies. The Swarm will have the eighth overall pick before storming through the second round with its five picks there. All told, Georgia has 12 picks throughout the six rounds of the Entry Draft.
Teams should be set for their respective training camps from there. The last remaining NLL Combine – taking place at the Toronto Rock Athletic Center on Sept. 15 – will have long passed, and all that will be left is adding a few key free agents or making some trades. For the Swarm, its training camp will start sometime when fall is upon us and run to before the Thanksgiving holiday.
Through camp, the roster will be tweaked until its narrowed down to the 20 players on the Swarm’s Active Roster that give Georgia its best chance at winning another NLL Cup and four members of the Practice Squad. That’s the last major milestone of the offseason.
After that, it’s the Swarm and Rush in their Meeting of Champions to kick off the 2018-19 NLL season.
Get excited | Photo Credit: Kyle Hess
Fans can get two (2) Lower Level End Zone tickets to the Swarm’s Home Opener on Dec. 1 and a 2017 NLL World Championship hat for only $60 by visiting GeorgiaSwarm.com/Opener and entering the promo code OPENER.
Season Tickets for the Swarm’s 2018-19 season are On Sale Now! Season Ticket packages include 10 games (nine regular season games and one postseason game) and a handful of VIP benefits. Join Sting City by reserving your membership today by calling 844-4-GASWARM.