It’s finally here, one of the most anticipated nights of the Georgia Swarm 2019-20 season. I’ve had Saturday, Feb. 22 circled in my calendar ever since the schedule was announced back in September, and quite frankly, you should have done the same the minute you saw this date.
There will be high-flying acrobatics, feats of amazing physical prowess, hard hits, and sweet, sweet victory. I’m talking, of course, about the…
SWARM’S THIRD ANNUAL DIAMOND DROP
What’d you think I was talking about?
Once again, the Swarm have teamed up with Tara Fine Jewelry for one of the best halftime events you will ever see. Hundreds of women who have signed up in advance at GeorgiaSwarm.com/DD-RSVP-NSTM will file onto Harrah’s Cherokee Casino field at halftime. Then 300 hundred parachutes will drop down from the rafters of Infinite Energy Arena towards the waiting women.
Like lionesses leaping lively towards languid prey, the ladies do their able best to grab one of the parachutes before immediately heading towards the boards to let others have their fair shake at obtaining a ’chute.
Inside of each parachute is a number, and the winning one is randomly drawn once all parachutes have dropped. For the lucky lady whose number is called out, she gets the granddaddy of all prizes, a 1.5 carat ForeverMark diamond halo pendant valued at $30,000 courtesy of Tara Fine Jewelry.
None of that was a typo: a 1.5 carat ForeverMark diamond halo pendant valued at $30,000.
Men and small children who watch from the stands, get your cameras ready to record. It’s a blast to watch.
Oh yeah, I guess there’s a game, too. Say hi to the…
DEFENDING CHAMPION CALGARY ROUGHNECKS
It’ll be the first time the Roughnecks have come to Sting City since March 17, 2017. The Swarm won that game from three seasons ago, and it was so much fun, that they plan to let history repeat itself.
The Roughnecks won’t make it easy, however. Injuries have hit this club hard, and their captain Dane Dobbie was suspended for the last six games – we’ll touch more on this shortly.
Since that Season Opener win, the Roughnecks have struggled to find the win column. They’ve only won twice, a 16-11 win against the Seals and a 13-9 win against the Riptide.
Their goaltending has been solid. Christian Del Bianco – the 22-year-old phenom – has played every minute of Roughnecks’ lacrosse this season, and he has a 9.97 GAA and .822 SV% to his name. He hasn’t faced the Swarm much in his career, just 85:28 min for an 11.21 GAA and .754 SV%.
On the other end of the floor, the Roughnecks offense is sixth in the NLL, averaging 11.29 GF/GAME. Like I just mentioned, injuries haven’t helped too much, but this Saturday, the Roughnecks will see the return of the…
2019 NLL AND NLL FINALS MVP
Dobbie’s suspension is up, and all of a sudden, the Swarm have one more thing to worry about.
In 2018-19, Dobbie played the finest season of his career, posting 115 points (47G, 68A) in the regular season and helping the Roughnecks sweep their way through the postseason with his 26 points (12G, 14A). Lots of hardware was bestowed upon him for his efforts.
His absence has obviously affected the Roughnecks O. His teammate for forever, Curtis Dickson, is on pace for one of the least productive seasons of his career, just averaging 3.86 PTS/GAME for what would be his lowest points total since 2013. Expect Dobbie’s return to help boost Dickson’s numbers back up to where we are used to seeing them.
As much as I would like to suggest that Dobbie’s return won’t be that beneficial, history kind of backs up that it will be. Over the last five contests, Dickson and Dobbie have done the most damage against the Swarm – both have had 11-point games against the Swarm, back in 2016 and 2017, and they regularly lead the Roughnecks in those contests in goals and points.
The Swarm have some pretty decent weapons of their own. Granted, they’ve played a game more than the Roughnecks this season, but they have been much more…
Let’s review the top five Swarm scorers: Shayne Jackson with 50 points (21G, 29A), Randy Staats with 40 points (11G, 29A), Lyle Thompson with 39 points (19G, 20A), Jordan Hall with 37 points (8G, 29A), and Miles Thompson with 22 points (11G, 11A).
That’s right, four Swarm forwards have more points than the Roughnecks’ top producer, Dickson.
Last Saturday’s win against the New York Riptide highlighted the Swarm’s diversity in action, as 10 different players found the back of the net – nine of them scored in the second quarter. The Swarm’s transition game was on full display in ways we’ve not seen in quite some time.
But for all that diversity last Saturday, everyone was shocked to find that Jackson went…
QUIETLY INTO THAT GOOD NIGHT
Quietly in a silent assassin way, as Jackson handed out six assists to his teammates, and every one of them a primary assist.
Sure, it would have been cool to see his seven-game streak of recording a hat trick extended to an eighth game, but all good things must come to an end. The Bowmanville, Ontario native’s run may have been over, but he did the next best thing by threading the needle to open teammates and watching them cash in off his feeds.
Lacrosse is a team sport, and Jackson exemplified helping out his teammates for the better of the team. He had just five shots all night, as the Riptide did their best to keep him from getting shots off. Double team him at your risk, as he distributed the ball well, something we’ve seen Lyle and Staats and Hall do all season long.
The Swarm will need that distribution and playmaking ability from everyone this Saturday. The Roughnecks are getting a huge boost with Dobbie’s return, and the Swarm are expecting a physical and fast-paced battle.
Opportunities for scoring will be few and far between for both squads, and the one that capitalizes on those scant chances will ultimately prevail as the victor Saturday night.