The first game of the East Division Finals is in the bag—specifically Georgia’s—as the team left Toronto with the win. Both teams will now play Game 2 and (if necessary) a 10-minute mini-Game 3 tonight at The Hive.
Georgia’s 11-8 victory against Toronto was a great character-win on the road, and the team will look to bring that same clean grit back to Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Field at Infinite Energy Arena to secure its first Champion’s Cup Finals appearance in franchise history.
The Swarm partnered with 680 The Fan to host #10KDay on Saturday, May 20. Georgia’s first playoff game at The Hive needs you fans there to watch, support, and cheer for the #1 ranked team in the world. While you’re getting ready for the Swarm showdown, check over these 5 Quick Stings to help prep you for Saturday night:
1. Not Just a Pretty Offense
I think Georgia shocked a lot of people last Saturday in Toronto for two reasons: 1) Georgia only scored 11 goals, and 2) the defense outplayed Toronto and its top defense in the East. But when you take a look back, it’s really not that surprising.
The Swarm defense has continually improved every game since its 18-11 loss to the Calgary Roughnecks in March. Since then, Georgia posted an 11.11 GA/GAME over the next nine games. Its first nine saw it post a 12.56 GA/GAME.
Some comparison points: The Colorado Mammoth allowed the least amount of goals this year with 199 over 18 games, an 11.06 GA/GAME. Toronto played close second with its one goal more and an 11.11 GA/GAME. The Rochester Knighthawks and Saskatchewan Rush rounded out the top four with 209/11.61 and 212/11.78 respectively. Georgia was smack in the middle in GA/GAME, but it only allowed one more goal all season than the two-time defending champion Rush. Georgia’s pace the last nine games show a defense that matches with the best defensive teams in the sport. The team finished the second half of the season with a GA/GAME of 11.11. The only team I mentioned earlier during that period with a lower GA/GAME was the Rochester Knighthawks and its 10.89.
The Swarm’s first playoff game of 2017 was just more proof of a strong Swarm defense. Only eight goals allowed, two one goal-quarters, seeing only .783 shots per minute, preventing one of the top transition offenses from going off. Georgia’s defense is working beautifully right now. Head coach Ed Comeau knows his defense is hot right now, dare I say…
2. White Hot
I dare. Joel White made an impact upon his return from the Holdout List in mid-March, but the one he made Saturday night was arguably much louder, good enough for the 2nd Star nod that game.
White started the scoring in the second half with a run down the floor, outstripping Toronto’s Stephan Leblanc before netting the ball. He also took advantage of some sloppy Rock ball-handling with an extra attacker, scooping the ball up near the mid-field and scoring his second goal of the night. He recorded three assists while collecting 14 loose balls and causing one turnover.
During the regular season, White recorded six points (1G, 5A) in seven games. He collected 67 loose balls and caused one turnover during that span. In one game, he nearly tied his regular season points record and is on a pace to surpass his LB number quickly.
Yeah, detractor, I know one of his goals came off an empty net, and so did captain Jordan MacIntosh’s goal afterwards. That’s the price you pay when you try for the…
3. Extra Attacker
Especially when you sub out the goalie like that for almost four minutes. Toronto was able to capitalize on the extra man situations courtesy of goals from Tom Schreiber and Kasey Biernes. But before you can say “good job,” we should look at the two empty netters Georgia scored in the third and fourth quarter courtesy of White and team captain Jordan MacIntosh. Georgia didn’t need the goals—Jordan Hall already scored the game-winning goal earlier—but the team definitely appreciated the insurance.
Given how badly the Rock got stung by this strategy, you have to wonder if it’s something it’ll do again if the team finds itself behind in a close game in Game 2. It’s playoff time, and the added pressure makes coaches take risks they normally wouldn’t. We can sit and wonder if leaving Brandon Miller in for those final minutes would have been the better strategy, cause he was playing incredibly well between the pipes. He only allowed 9 goals and blocked 45 shots. That’s good, but comparatively, they’ve got nothing; we’ve got…
4. Mike POOOUUULLLIIINN
I think we can safely say at this point in the season that the Mike Poulin signing during the offseason was a fantastic one. Looking at the tangibles, his regular season saw him between the pipes for 922:58 min. where he made 646 saves, good for a 11.77 GAA and a .781 SV%. Poulin also posted a 12-4 record, better than his 12-5 record with Calgary in 2014. In the postseason so far, he’s made 39 saves on 47 shots, good for an 8.00 GAA and an .830 SV%.
But the intangibles are also a big part of why the Poulin signing has been such a success. Talk to any Swarm player not named Mike, and they will practically rave about how good Poulin has been as a defensive leader. He receives a ton of credit for the defense coalescing on its way to one of the best defensive runs in team history. Pretty much every game Georgia holds its opponent to single digits, everyone dedicates time in their post-game interviews just talking about how much of an impact the man has had, getting the defense set and ready to go to stymie the opposition.
The Georgia Swarm leads by example on and off the floor and will use that leadership to get you fans out for…
Game 2 is the Swarm’s first home playoff game since moving to Georgia, and the team wants and needs The Hive filled, fans in yellow turning the Infinite Energy Arena into a giant honeycomb. Partnering with 680The Fan, Georgia is hosting #10KDay TONIGHT. In celebration of this historic night for the franchise, Georgia has a bevy of special promotions going, like:
The first 5,000 fans will receive BamStix noisemakers courtesy of game sponsor Axiom Corporation Chick-fil-A Family 4-Pack – (4) Lower Level Playoff Tickets + (4) Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwiches for only $90.
First 500 fans will receive a commemorative Lyle Thompson Gameday Poster.
First 1,000 fans will receive a "Take a Seat Poster."
Pre-Game Band performance in the Main Concourse Area by The Cody Matlock Band. Official Georgia Swarm Playoff gear like this t-Shirt for only $25.
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