Now that the bad joke that everyone has made since Vancouver re-branded is out of the way, we can get down to business.
The Georgia Swarm has a big weekend ahead of them. After this Saturday night, the Swarm could very well be the only team in the league with three wins and no losses. But standing in their way is the Vancouver Warriors.
Formerly the Stealth, Vancouver went through arguably the most change out of any team during the offseason. New name, logo, arena, coaching staff and roster; there are very few familiar faces from last season.
After a great comeback win in their Season Opener, the Warriors have dropped their last two games by six goals each. They will be determined on Saturday to prevent their current skid from extending further into the season. It’s easy to get ahead of ourselves and expect an easy win; after all, a 2-16 record last season and recent struggles will give you that impression. But it would be foolish to come to Sting City anticipating an easy win for the Swarm. For proof, look at…
APRIL 28, 2018
Playing for nothing but pride, Vancouver left it all on the floor in its last game as the Stealth on Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Field at Infinite Energy Arena. The Swarm weren’t playing their usual brand of lacrosse in the first half and found themselves down 7-3 at halftime. Take it from them:
“We got away from stuff,” Swarm head coach Ed Comeau said following the game. “We had some really good looks early and didn’t score and kind of got away from that when their goalie made some big saves. All of a sudden, we’re facing a deficit. We were confident and stuck to our game plan to be able to claw back in.”
“Vancouver just outworked us in that span,” Shayne Jackson said about the first half. “They were getting the loose balls; they were getting resets. Their faceoff team was doing a great job giving them possessions, and we just came flat. Our offense, we were stopping moving our feet and moving the ball. When you do that in this league, you’re not going to have too much success. It’s a good sign that we came into the half, and we were able to shake that first half off and pick it up the second half.”
The Swarm managed to outscore the visiting team 8-3 in the second half and claimed their postseason spot with an 11-10 home win.
A good number of Warriors players were in that April 28 game. They’ll remember how they tangoed with the best in the East last season and nearly pulled out a win and will bring that confidence with them for Saturday’s game.
You can’t take any team lightly or you’ll get stung, simple as that. It was a good lesson, and hopefully one that has stuck with Georgia. It’s a similar lesson every other team has learned with…
Friday’s win for the Swarm was a great team effort, grinding constantly against a Toronto Rock team that refused to go away quietly. But it might not have been a Swarm win if not for the efforts of one Lyle Thompson.
His teammates will rave about what he does when he doesn’t have the ball, how he fights for loose balls, the work he does to help prevent an opponent in transition, all the shifts he participates in. The physical skill it took to make his goals was astounding enough on its own (did you see that jumping full-body twister? I can’t even do that with both feet on the ground without putting myself out of commission for a week).
But arguably the most intriguing facet of his game from last Friday was the timeliness of his goals. He broke the 5-5 tie in the second quarter with the above goal, tied up the game with under three minutes to go in the fourth quarter and then called game with his game-winner with 22.3 seconds left on the clock.
Yeah, Lyle has had games where he’s scored more goals or recorded double digits in points, but it’s hard to overstate how much the Swarm rely on him whether he has the ball or not.
When a guy posts 10 points (5G, 5A) and gets the second star of the game (Toronto’s Rob Hellyer) to a guy who posted half the points total, then you know you just watched a special game from a special player.
IN FOR A PENNEY, IN FOR A BOLD
Vancouver has two goaltenders it can lean on Saturday: Aaron Bold and Eric Penney. Both are familiar with the Swarm:
|AARON BOLD vs. SWARM SINCE 2016|
|ERIC PENNEY vs. SWARM SINCE 2016|
Do the math, and you can see that Bold has a 2-4 record complimenting his 13.86 GAA and a .722 SV% against the Swarm since 2016, Penney with an 0-2 record to go with his 11.42 GAA and .801 SV% against the Swarm since ’16.
We’ll figure out who gets the nod to start between the pipes on gameday. These are two goaltenders familiar with the Swarm, and both will be itching to stonewall the home team given the chance. They’ll also be hoping for solid contributions at the other end of the floor from…
THE RETURNING FORWARDS
We’ll just concentrate on the three forwards that were with Vancouver last season and this season: Logan Schuss, Tony Malcom and James Rahe.
Schuss, a former Swarm player, has recorded 19 points (7G, 12A) in four games against the Swarm since 2016. Malcom spent ’16 and ’17 with Buffalo before playing for Vancouver in ’17-18. He has 23 points (10G, 13A) over eight games when facing the Swarm the past three seasons. Finally is Rahe. He has been with Vancouver his entire career. In three games against the Swarm, the Robert Morris University alum has eight points (3G, 5A).
While they’ll be looking to become the first Vancouver club to best Georgia since 2016, firing against them is the Swarm’s new weapon…
Since he spent the first two seasons of his career with the Calgary Roughnecks, Holden Cattoni is very familiar with Vancouver. He’s played eight games against them. After just eight points (1G, 7A) against them during his rookie season, Cattoni feasted on Vancouver in ’17-18, using his bigger role in Calgary’s offense to post 26 points (12G, 14A). Over triple the production, crazy.
Cattoni’s off to a great start with the Swarm in ’18-19. He is tied with Randy Staats for the second most points on the team with 11 (4G, 7A). Meshing into the Swarm’s creativity-driven offensive system has worked well so far, and Cattoni will be looking to push that pace against the West Division foe.
The Swarm will be hosting Country Night presented by Georgia Lottery on Saturday, Jan. 5. Multi-platinum selling singer-songwriter Jerrod Niemann will perform a halftime and postgame concert in the Swarm’s Goal Zone Club.
Early arriving fans will receive Swarm cowbells presented by Georgia Lottery. Lower Level Tickets to Swarm Country Night featuring Jerrod Niemann start as low as $25 and can be purchased online at GeorgiaSwarm.com/CountryNight or by calling 844-4-GASWARM.