Is there a better way to come off a bye week than with a game against an expansion team for the first time ever? It’s exciting to face a new opponent, a team that is filled with primarily youth and the energy they bring. And with the San Diego Seals being the top team in the West Division, their recent successes amp up the excitement level.
But talk to the Swarm players and coaches, and they’ll tell you they have to treat this like any other game. The Swarm and the Seals are the only two teams to win every game they played in March, and on Friday, one of those win streaks comes to an end. So heading in to Friday, we’ll have to treat this as business as usual.
Or we would, but there’s too much to look forward to. The Swarm have to take this seriously; we get to enjoy…
STAATS ON STAATS
April 5 has been circled on a few of our calendars since Sept. 25 because it marks the first time the Staats brothers Randy and Austin will play each other professionally in their lives.
They’ve played together a bit, including the 2018 Iroquois Nationals team at the FIL World Championship last summer. But against one another is a different story, and it’s going to be fun.
Randy’s having a career year. He’s second on the Swarm and third in the NLL in points (85), second on the Swarm and fifth in the NLL in goals (33) and leads the Swarm and is fourth in the NLL in assists (52). Averaging 5.67 PTS/GAME, the elder Staats brother is on pace to finish with 102 points (40G, 62A).
Austin’s not doing too bad himself. He has 59 points (31G, 28A) in 13 games with the Seals, leading all rookies league-wide by 20 points and sitting third on the Seals. His 31 goals lead all rookies and the Seals, and his assists are the most in the rookie class.
There’s a lot of season left for a few teams, but Austin is the clear frontrunner for Rookie of the Year, the same award his older bro won in 2016 after a record-setting 95 points (36G, 59A).
Brotherly love out of the way, let’s take a look at some former teammates that are also having career years, namely…
MIKE POULIN AND FRANK SCIGLIANO
Hopefully you haven’t forgotten about Mike Poulin’s 47-save performance on March 22 against Toronto, cause we haven’t. It’s a well-deserved win that he’ll credit to his teammates, and it also highlights all the good work he’s been doing this entire season. Currently, he has a 10.75 GAA and a .795 SV% in 815:05 min. of action.
On the other side of the floor will be former teammate Frank Scigliano. The two played together with the Calgary Roughnecks from 2012-2015. In the 2018 Expansion Draft, Scigliano was selected by the Seals, and he responded to their selection by playing some of the best lacrosse of his NLL career. Across 772:58 min., Scigliano has an 11.02 GAA and a .795 SV%, the same save percentage as Poulin.
Both goaltenders are an important part of why their respective teams are where they are in the standings. They’ll need to stand tall from the get-go as both teams like to…
COMING OUT FIRING
Don’t take my word for it.
|GF/GA BY QUARTER|
The Swarm have a +19 goal differential in the first 15 minutes of games and slow down as the games progress. The Seals have a +7 goal differential in the first quarter before really stepping on the gas in the second quarter, having outscored opponents by 12 goals. But the visiting Seals also tend to tail off in the second half (except for that game against the Philadelphia Wings on March 16 where they scored six goals in the final five minutes of the game to upset the Wings in dramatic fashion).
Those numbers give a sense of how teams have done the whole season vaguely, however. For example, the Swarm had 38 GF and 42 GA in the third quarter before March 22. After a 5-1 third against the Rock, that jumped to the current split.
What is also important to note is that the Swarm are 9-2 when leading after the first quarter, 9-1 when leading at halftime, and 10-0 when heading into the last 15 minutes of a game with the lead. The Seals are 6-1 with a lead in the first quarter, 8-1 after two quarters, and 6-0 when leading after the third quarter.
Trailing in games hasn’t served either team well this season, and one way to not find yourself playing catchup is to…
JUMP TO AN EARLY LEAD
In their last three contests, the Swarm have outscored opponents 18-8 in the opening 15 minutes, 28-16 in the first half.
The team has also scored first in each of those games early on. Against the Buffalo Bandits on March 9, Shayne Jackson netted a power play goal in 2:47 min. Chad Tutton set a short-lived Swarm record for fastest goal scored at the beginning of a game by scoring in 15 seconds against the Rochester Knighthawks on March 15. Jordan MacIntosh said he could do one better the following week and broke Tutton’s infantile record by scoring in nine seconds against the Rock.
Scoring early is huge for the Swarm. They are 8-1 when breaking the ice in a game, that one loss coming against the Colorado Mammoth on Feb. 16. Netting the first goal of the game is a big energizer for a team, but it’s just one goal out of (hopefully) many, and the Swarm will need to play a full 60 minutes to emerge with their seventh home win of the season.
Speaking of consistency, a large part of the Swarm’s perfect March was the reemergence of…
“Why are you calling anyone Mr. Consistency if they’re ‘reemerging?'” Hush, it’s my Hive Five, I coined Jackson ‘Mr. Consistency’ after last season, and I refuse to change that moniker.
Some background: Jackson earned the nickname after scoring 83, 84 and 85 points from 2016-18. He also collected 75 loose balls each season, which is frankly more impressive to snag the exact same amount for three seasons in a row. Scoring 80+ points? Jackson makes it look easy. Three seasons of 75 loosies? How…how do you do that?
Jackson’s currently at 63 (26G, 37A), and with just three games left, he’d have to score 23 more points (7.67 PTS/GAME) to keep his one-goal increase each season intact.
But this is Jackson we’re talking about, and you never know when he’s going to go off. Take this past month, for example. The Bowmanille, Ontario native had himself a massive march, averaging 6 PTS/GAME after netting 11 goals and dishing 13 assists – 24 points in four games compared to the 39 points he had in the 11 prior.
Jackson’s getting hot at the right time. The Swarm defense and Poulin turned in their best game of the season so far on March 22. There are just three Swarm games left this season, and every one might as well be a postseason game.
Friday night’s going to be fun.
Faceoff for Friday’s game is set for 7:35 p.m. ET.
The Swarm are hosting Ladies Night presented by Infiniti of Gwinnett. The highly anticipated halftime Diamond Drop makes its return, and the Swarm and Tara Fine Jewelry Co. have doubled down on one of the Swarm’s most popular in-game events, offering up a grand prize 1.00 Carat Forevermark Diamond Center Stone set in a Diamond Halo Pendant.
At halftime, the Swarm will drop 300 parachutes from the top of the Arena onto the floor, and one lucky lady will grab the right parachute and win the grand prize valued at $18,000.
Early arriving fans can receive a pair of Swarm Sunglasses courtesy of Infiniti of Gwinnett. Call 844-4-GASWARM or visit GeorgiaSwarm.com/LadiesNight for tickets.