Good times are currently rolling for the Georgia Swarm. They’re coming off a grudge match against the Buffalo Bandits, winning 14-9 in KeyBank Center. Now the Swarm continue their New York road trip and take I-90 E to Rochester for the third and final meeting with the Knighthawks.
While the Swarm will do their best to earn a third-straight win, they face an interesting dilemma: how do you prepare for a team that revamped its roster as much as the Knighthawks did? For those that don’t know, the Knighthawks spent their bye week following the March 2 loss to the Swarm making trade after trade after trade. In fact, they were involved in every NLL trade in the week leading up to the…
Seriously. There were six trades, and the Knighthawks have the distinction of being in all of them:
- Traded forward Cory Vitarelli to the Colorado Mammoth for Ryan Benesch,
- Traded defenseman Paul Dawson to the San Diego Seals (joining his brother, Seals captain Dan Dawson) for a 2020 second-round pick and a 2022 conditional second-round pick,
- Traded forward Joe Resetarits to the New England Black Wolves for their 2022 first-round pick and 2019 second-round pick,
- Traded their 2020 fourth-round pick to the Calgary Roughnecks for Chris Boushy,
- Traded defenseman Ian Llord to the Colorado Mammoth for defenseman Rowan Kelly and the Mammoth’s 2021 third-round pick,
- And traded team captain and defenseman Scott Campbell to the Saskatchewan Rush for a 2022 second-round pick and 2021 conditional second-round pick,
Subtract Vitarelli, P. Dawson, Resetarits, Llord and Campbell from the old roster and add Benesch, Boushy and Kelly.
While self-reflection and focusing on their own play is a staple of the Swarm players’ preparation each week, it will be incredibly important now given all the new faces the Swarm will likely see this Friday. Prep for the guys you know, and double down on reviewing yourself.
At the end of the day, teams really won’t know who will be on the floor until game time. This holds true for the Swarm, especially…
IN FRONT OF THE NET
Rochester’s two goalies, Angus Goodleaf and Warren Hill, have played in both games against the Swarm this season. Goodleaf was chased from the pipes in both games, and Hill played well against his former team despite earning the loss in the first game.
Goodleaf has seen 57:07 min. of action against the Swarm, allowing 18 GA and making 32 saves. That equates to an 18.91 GAA and a .640 SV%. For comparison, Hill has made 50 saves on 62 SOG over 62:53 min., an 11.45 GAA and an .806 SV%.
Again, the Swarm won’t know who stands between them and the twine until Friday at 7:30 p.m., but that holds true for the Knighthawks considering the play of…
POULIN AND ORLEMAN
Kevin Orleman played his first minutes ever as an NLL goalie on Feb. 2 against the Knighthawks, simultaneously his first start and first win. His 33 saves on 45 SOG were good enough for the win as the Swarm offense put up 16 goals. In addition to the great feelings earning a first win brings, Orleman got the firsthand experience facing NLL talent, something a backup needs before the postseason rolls around.
Veteran Mike Poulin has a ton of that experience, and getting to rest on the back half of a doubleheader and cheer Orleman on was a welcome reward for coming out on top of the goaltender battle the night before. He was in fine form on March 2 for the second game of the season against the Knighthawks, posting an .804 SV% after making 45 saves. A good show for the second-largest home crowd in Georgia Swarm history.
That confidence is important, especially considering…
ROCHESTER’S NEW FIREPOWER
Benesch was the Mammoth’s leading scorer this season, recording 47 points (17G, 30A) in 10 games. And while the Swarm held him pointless when they faced the Mammoth at Pepsi Center on Feb. 16, that was a historical aberration.
From 2016-18, Benesch has faced the Swarm eight times, twice for the Mammoth and six times as a member of the Buffalo Bandits. Throughout those three seasons, the Kitchener, Ontario native has recorded 52 points (24G, 28A) against the men in blue and yellow.
But recent history is more important in the grand scheme of things, and the Swarm have plenty of good backing them this season…
HEADING INTO FRIDAY
Lots to cover in this Quick Sting.
The Swarm have responded excellently after their bye week, besting the Knighthawks 15-11 and the Bandits 14-9. In that two-game win streak:
- The Swarm have outscored opponents by nine goals,
- they’re averaging 14.5 GF/GAME and 10 GA/GAME,
- the power play has gone 5-for-8,
- 10 different players have scored, eight against Buffalo and nine against Rochester,
- Lyle Thompson has 11 points (2G, 9A), Holden Cattoni has seven (1G, 6A), Brendan Bomberry has four (3G, 1A), Zed Williams with seven (4G, 3A), Shayne Jackson has 11 (3G, 8A), Bryan Cole with nine (5G, 4A) and Randy Staats has eight (6G, 2A),
- the Swarm offense has a collective 19.21 S% and a 70.20 SOG%,
- and Poulin’s 10 GAA is paired with an .811 SV% (86 saves on 106 SOG).
Two of the Swarm’s best wins this season have come against the Knighthawks. So let’s list out how good those went once again:
- The Swarm have outscored the Knighthawks by eight goals in their season series,
- They’re averaging 15.5 GF/GAME and 11.5 GA/GAME,
- The power play is 7-for-10,
- Lyle (5G, 11A) and Cattoni (6G, 10A) have 16 points each, Williams has six (3G, 3A), Jackson with 12 (4G, 8A), Cole has six in one game (3G, 3A), and Staats has 15 (6G, 9A),
- The Swarm offense has a collective 21.23 S% and a 67.81 SOG%
- and Orleman and Poulin have both won and have a collective .772 SV%.
The recent history is a good confidence booster for the Swarm, but we, the fans, will have to enjoy it in the players’ place. For now, the Swarm have to treat this game on Friday as though they’ve never won against the Knighthawks and bring their best effort.
Poulin put it best following the Swarm’s win last Saturday when asked about the mindset the Swarm need heading into Rochester:
“This is the best lacrosse league in the world, so no matter who they bring out to play, we’ll be a tough opponent. We’re not going to take this lineup lightly. That would be an incredible mistake; just, there’s too many good lacrosse players out there. We’ll show that team respect, we’ll prepare for whoever they bring out, and we’ll be ready to go.”