Game Previews

HIVE FIVE: Swarm vs. Black Wolves, at Knighthawks

5 Quick Stings for the Swarm's second doubleheader of the season

Winning against the defending world champions sure does wonders for a team’s confidence. And the Georgia Swarm will need that confidence boost heading into their second doubleheader weekend of the 2018-19 season.

The Swarm meet the New England Black Wolves for the third and final time this regular season on Friday, Feb. 1. The Swarm then travel north to face the Rochester Knighthawks for the first time since the 2017-18 East Division Finals.

Friday’s game has a tiebreaker implication hanging over it, and Saturday will be the tail end of doubleheaders for both Georgia and Rochester. While that does help even the playing field a little bit, it doesn’t change the fact that the Swarm will have played…

FIVE GAMES IN 16 DAYS

That’s nearly a game every three days. What a crazy pace. It’s certainly not the envy of anyone in the league.

But that’s ultimately where the Swarm find themselves. Five games stretching from Jan. 18 to Feb. 2. And that brutal stretch is sandwiched in the middle of at least a game every week for the Swarm. From Dec. 28 to Feb. 16, the Swarm have no bye weeks.

Sounds fun | Photo Credit: Kyle Hess

That makes maintenance and recovery even more important for Swarm players. There are no easy games and no nights that can just be taken off in this league, so the Swarm will have to delicately balance between leaving it all out on the floor and saving a little in the tank for…

THE BACK END OF ANOTHER DOUBLEHEADER

Fortunately for the Swarm, the Knighthawks will also experience a doubleheader of their own. The Knighthawks will be in Philadelphia on Friday to take on the Wings for the second time this season before traveling back home to welcome the Swarm for the first time this season.

Last Saturday, the Knighthawks exacted revenge on the Buffalo Bandits, winning 18-13 in some military-themed uniforms for their Military Appreciation Night. Forward Austin Shanks took charge, scoring seven goals in the game.

With a second win under their belt, the Knighthawks now head to Philly to take on a Wings team still searching for their first win of the season.

With a win against the defending world champs, the Swarm await the Black Wolves and will try to repeat their performance from Sunday by being controlled and making…

SMART SHOT SELECTIONS

The Swarm’s shooting percentages and shot-on-goal percentages per game have been a bit of a roller coaster this season.

OPPONENT RESULT TOTAL SHOTS SOG SOFF S% SOG%
vs. NE W, 16-12 89 60 29 17.98% 67.42%
@ TOR W, 12-11 83 55 28 14.46% 66.27%
vs. VAN W, 10-8 64 46 18 15.63% 71.88%
@ PHI W, 13-11 69 50 19 18.84% 72.46%
@ TOR L, 14-9 75 49 26 12.00% 65.33%
@ NE L, 13-12 82 49 33 14.63% 59.76%
vs. SAS W, 13-10 63 46 17 20.63% 73.02%

Let’s consider a few things when looking at this:

  • The Swarm offense has Zed Williams, Joel Tinney, Jerome Thompson and Holden Cattoni all joining it. It takes time for players to build chemistry.
  • Toronto has one of the top defenses in the league and always play the Swarm tough.
  • The second game against New England was the second game in Georgia’s first doubleheader weekend, and the Swarm were trying to force something to happen to avoid dropping their second-straight game.

That’s part of why Sunday’s win was so great. The Swarm were outshot 79-63 and out-loose-balled 78-52, but they were very accurate against the Rush and posted their best team S% and SOG% of the season. Particularly early on in the game, the Swarm jumped on Evan Kirk at net and netted five goals on 10 SOG.

Fun fact, the Swarm’s total SOG on Sunday were the exact amount of…

SAVES POULIN MADE

That’s right and weird; Mike Poulin stopped as many shots against as the Swarm made on net the entire game.

He really had his work cut out for him in the second and third quarter. After having to make only three saves in the first quarter, Poulin went on to make 18 saves in the second quarter and 16 in the third. 34 of his 46 saves (73.91%) came in half an hour. The Rush are no easy team by any stretch of the imagination whether you have the lead or not.

One of those Rush shots came mid-sneeze for Poulin | Photo Credit: Kyle Hess

So far, Poulin has played in 419:59 min. this season, has a 5-2 record, made 277 saves (the most in the NLL currently), an 11.14 GAA and a .780 SV%.

All of those numbers have put us on record watch. Right now, the Kitchener, Ontario native is:

  • 108 saves away from 5000 career saves,
  • 13 saves away from taking sole possession of 8th all-time in NLL saves (12 away from tying Matt Disher at 8th all-time with 4904 saves),
  • and 146 min. away from taking sole possession of 7th all-time in goalie minutes played (145 min. away from tying Brandon Miller at 7th all-time with 7863 min. played).

That is, of course, dependent on Poulin not leaving the net for the next few games. Fortunately, he hasn’t been chased from net yet, one of the few goaltenders this season that can lay claim to that fact. But expecting him to have an easy time with the Black Wolves on Friday wouldn’t be smart considering they themselves are looking to…

BOUNCE BACK

The Black Wolves earned their second loss of the season last Sunday, and it was not pretty.

The Bandits went to Mohegan Sun Arena (look at them popping up twice in this Hive Five) after falling 18-13 to the Knighthawks the night before. Their play was different as they thoroughly embarrassed the home team with a 15-5 road win.

The five goals scored for the Black Wolves are their lowest since the franchise moved to New England. Losing that badly motivates a team to not repeat that performance.

Between that and the tiebreaker implications of Friday night, the Black Wolves have a lot weighing on their mind. But they do not have an easy opponent to try and correct course against.

Over the past four seasons, the Swarm and Black Wolves have met 13 times with the Swarm having won seven of those games. But at Infinite Energy Arena, the two teams have faced each other six times.

Georgia has won five of those games and has a 14.33 GF/GAME compared to an 11.33 GA/GAME.

Since the first game of the doubleheader is always their priority, the Swarm are looking to utilize the lessons learned from last Sunday against the visiting Black Wolves. If they play as disciplined and measured as they did against the Rush, then the Swarm should be in good shape for both games this weekend.

Head pats and group hugs galore | Photo Credit: Kyle Hess


The Swarm are hosting School Spirit Night presented by DoMyOwn on Friday night. Early arriving fans will receive a Lyle Thompson drawstring backpack. Fans can purchase tickets at GeorgiaSwarm.com/SchoolSpiritNight or by calling 844-4-GASWARM.

The Swarm also partnered with Atlanta Tech Park to celebrate STEM day and will be hosting the first-ever Atlanta Tech Expo from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. in the main concourse of Infinite Energy Arena.

Technology companies based in the metro Atlanta area will display their products, services and innovations before the Swarm take the floor. Fans can RSVP for the event at GeorgiaSwarm.com/Tech