#45 Jason Noble. (Photo Credit: Paul Sasso)
The final two games of the 2017 regular season for the Georgia Swarm sees the team facing off against the Rochester Knighthawks. Both teams won important games last week as Georgia ended the Buffalo Bandits’ playoff aspirations with a 20-7 victory and Rochester beat the New England Black Wolves 15-13 to keep its playoff aspirations alive.
The two will play on Friday, April 28 at Blue Cross Arena before immediately flying down to Georgia for the final game of the regular season at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Field at Infinite Energy Arena on Saturday, April 29. Faceoffs are set for 7:30 p.m. ET and 7:05 p.m. ET respectively. Fans can catch Friday’s game LIVE via NLLTV.com and can come to The Hive on Saturday as the Swarm celebrated Fan Appreciation Night. Tickets are available by calling 844-4-GASWARM or by visiting GeorgiaSwarm.com/PlayoffPush.
It’s been an exciting 16 games so far, and this weekend promises to be a crazy one. Keep up with the craziness, Swarm fans, and take note of these 5 Quick Stings:
1. When Everything Clicks pt. 3
It skipped a week, but I still got to do a “When Everything Clicks pt. 3” before the season ended thanks to Georgia’s 20 goals against Buffalo.
Let’s keep this one simple: Georgia has the best offense in the NLL. It’s 15.31 GF/GAME is nearly two full goals ahead of the next best offense (Saskatchewan Rush at 13.38). Four players have over 70 points, led by MVP-candidate Lyle Thompson and his 108 points (40G, 68A). In Georgia’s four-game winning streak, the team is averaging 19.75 GF/GAME.
2. More to the Swarm than the Stinger
It’s difficult to hold any team in the NLL below double digits points-wise, especially when your opponent is the third-best offense in the league – Buffalo had been held to less than 10 points only three times this season before last week’s game against Georgia. Testament to Georgia’s improved defense, the team held Buffalo to only three shots in the third quarter and prevented the Bandits from scoring for over 23 minutes. Joel White had 9LB+3CTO, Connor Sellars 5LB+3CTO, captain Jordan MacIntosh 8LB, 4CTO, Ethan O’Connor and assistant captain Jason Noble both with 5LB+1CTO, Bryan Cole 4LB+2CTO, and Chad Tutton with 5LB. The team kept Buffalo off balance and away from Mike Poulin.
Georgia’s defense definitely showed some grit when the team first faced Rochester this season. Lyle (10LB), Alex Crepinsek (10LB), and O’Connor (6LB+2CTO) led the defense that night while Poulin blocked 45 shots, finishing the night with a 9 GAA and a .833 SV%. With the groove Georgia seems to be in on both sides of the floor – Georgia has only allowed 68 goals over the past six games.
3. A Quiet Offense
Not taking anything away from Georgia’s defense, but Rochester’s league-worst offense definitely helped the Swarm on Feb. 19. The Knighthawks have only scored 156 goals this season – 37 less than the next closest team. Averaging 9.75 GF/GAME, the team has had 32 different players play for it this season, the most in the league and the only team to have played over 30 different players. It’s hard to gel together and be consistent with a veritable rotating door like what Rochester has. Last weekend, it tied its season high in goals with 15 against New England.
Georgia averages 15.31 GF/GAME and has scored 15 or more goals nine times this season.
4. The Missing Matt Vinc
Rochester didn’t play goaltender Matt Vinc back in February against Georgia. Adam Goodleaf stood in front of the net in his first game of the season. At the time, Rochester was in the midst of five games in 15 days, an insane pace. Goodleaf allowed 15 goals that night on 51 shots, a .705 SV%.
Maybe Vinc needed some rest – four games in 14 days is a crazy pace to keep up in a sport as fast and demanding as box lacrosse is. But with Rochester’s playoff hopes on the line this weekend, expect him to start Friday night. He’s played in 842:06 min. this season and blocked 551 shots. With an 11.26 GAA and a .777 SV%, Rochester needs the veteran goaltender and its defense to step up big time and figure out how to stop the dangerous Swarm offense coming its way. Maybe smoke? Like what beekeepers use. It’s a joke. Laugh.
5. Going Streaking
If you’ve been snoozing under a rock this past month, you’ll be surprised to learn that Georgia currently has a four-game win streak going, tying its season high when it started the year off 4-0. It held this season-streak record for a few weeks until Saskatchewan went on a six-win run to hold this distinction. While unable to best this record, Georgia can tie it up this weekend with two wins over Rochester.
Good things happen when you streak, as the two wins will also give Georgia its best record in franchise history – the team has already surpassed the previous record for most wins in a season when it reached 11 wins – and give it the best record in the NLL, guaranteeing home field advantage if (re: when) the Swarm make it to the Champion’s Cup Finals.