Coming to the Georgia Swarm’s first-ever open Training Camp? Not sure who to keep an eye out for outside of the familiar faces? Not a problem! Our annual Hive Five: Top 5 Players to Watch can fill you in on all the Swarm players and groups to watch.
These players are looking to breakout and crack a deep Swarm roster or are returning players trying to hit that next level in their game. With some key departures over the offseason, a number of draftees and free agent signings, and the Active Roster expanding to 21 spots per the new CBA, Georgia can shake up both sides of the floor. The team will use the two-week Training Camp to decide what arrangement gives the Swarm its best chance at winning another NLL World Championship.
Two of those offseason player losses were on the offensive side of the floor, and it’ll be the perfect opportunity for…
Williams guarding Jamieson | Photo Credit: Kyle Hess
If you recall, Zed Williams introduced last year’s Top Players to Watch list as well.
Williams’ rookie season saw him play in nine games and record eight points (5G, 3A), 41 loose balls and seven caused turnovers. With the return of Joel White, Jordan Hall, Chad Tutton and Ethan O’Connor throughout the season, playing time became scarce for the rookies. Williams’ last game that he dressed for was March 2 against Colorado. So why is he showing back up on this annual Hive Five?
Because Zed only played in nine games as a rookie, and we only got to see flashes of brilliance from him (remember that SportsCenter Top 10 BTB goal?). Everyone is awaiting that next step. While Williams is listed as a transition player, he has demonstrated throughout college and other lacrosse leagues that he can be an offensive powerhouse. With Kiel Matisz being selected by Philadelphia in the Expansion Draft, this is the perfect opportunity for Williams to fill some big shoes and do some damage on the left side.
He’s not the only Swarm player with shoes to fill. On the right side, we get to see newcomer…
Cattoni defended by Stouros | Photo Credit: Candice Ward/Calgary Roughnecks
Trading Jesse King wasn’t an easy call to make, but in doing so, Georgia was able to get Holden Cattoni from Calgary and Brendan Bomberry with the attached draft pick. Cattoni stepped up big for the Roughnecks in 2017-18, increasing his points output by 50 points (not a typo) compared to his rookie season.
He also gives the Swarm something it really didn’t have in 2017-18: a lefty shooter with a dangerous outside shot (Randy Staats called Cattoni’s shot “a rocket”). Cattoni is also known to crash and bump to create some space for teammates. He’ll be joining an offense thought of for its creativity as much as its talent, so seeing how he acclimates to the new system is going to be fun.
Cattoni has spent his two years in the NLL with the Roughnecks, and unfortunately, that’s not an opponent Swarm fans get to see in action very often. The two teams met twice in 2017 and once last season, but two of those contests were in Alberta. So, it’s understandable for Swarm fans to not know what to expect, same with…
Dunn running downfield | Photo Credit: Dallas Rattlers
What happens when you take a field lacrosse star and have him play in the NLL with his little to no box lacrosse experience?
Hopefully, you end up with a Tom Schreiber or John Ranagan.
That’s a crazy high level of expectation to saddle someone with, but Matt Dunn might be able to meet that pressure. He was the MLL Defensive Player of the Year in 2018 and made the 2019 U.S. men’s indoor lacrosse training team. I’ve already delved into why he can be successful in the league (warning, long read). Now we get to see how his year-long crash course in boxla has worked out and how quickly he meshes with the Swarm’s systems, same as Cattoni.
While nothing is a given in pro sports, when you have a guy like Ranagan being a cheerleader for your abilities, then you have to feel good about your chances. All the same, only time will tell if Dunn plays defense in blue and yellow. Time will also narrow down the…
Steven Orleman blocking a shot | Photo Credit: Brampton Excelsiors
Here are the four goalies attending the Swarm’s Training Camp: Mike Poulin, Kevin Orleman, Steven Orleman and Craig Wende.
While everyone is competing for a roster spot, let’s operate under the assumption that Poulin will be the starting netminder. Much like last year, the million dollar question is who backs up Poulin?
Kevin had the job last season, but he split duties with Warren Hill. While Hill did see time in front of the net in February one weekend, Kevin did not as Poulin was a wall in the second half of the season when Kevin returned from the PUP list. He is the most familiar with the Swarm players, however, working with them constantly in shootaround. Steven helped lead the Brampton Excelsiors (Jr. A) to the Minto Cup this summer. Wende played for the Oakville Titans (Sr. B) and spent most of the time between the pipes for the Titans at the Presidents Cup this summer in Nanaimo.
One thing to note is with the recent collective bargaining agreement between the NLL and PLPA, teams now have a 21-man Active Roster (up from the previous 20). Last year, Georgia started the season off with three goaltenders and none on the Practice Roster. It is entirely possible you could see a similar Swarm roster construction AND have that fourth goalie on the Practice Roster.
Until then, we’ll just have to wait and see. All three are looking for playing time in the NLL, and competition inherently breeds better results. Chances are they’ll be putting on a show. Getting to watch them in action this Saturday should be fun for…
Let’s not let Training Camp get in the way of the fact that (a) this will be the first professional indoor lacrosse camp in Georgia and (b) it’s open for fans to come watch from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The Swarm normally holds Training Camp up in Toronto or Six Nations. When the team had the unique opportunity to host the first camp down here in Infinite Energy Arena, the Swarm knew that the fans in Georgia should get the rare chance to see what goes on in a Swarm Training Camp. It’s the perfect opportunity to see familiar faces and meet some new ones. Fans can witness firsthand how much effort the players put in to be able to wear blue and yellow, even the veterans.
So come to Sting City Saturday at 11:30 a.m. Players want to see you there; everyone that I’ve spoken with since the Swarm announced the open practice perks up immediately at the subject. They love getting to interact with fans and want to thank them in person for their patience this offseason.
Plus, the Swarm has some fresh new gear available at The Swarm Shop in the main concourse of Infinite Energy Arena. Get your hoodies cause they’re flying off the shelves.
Saturday’s going to be fun. More details are here. Hopefully, we’ll see you at Sting City.
Georgia opens its 2018-19 season against the New England Black Wolves on Saturday, Dec. 15. Faceoff is set for 7:05 p.m. ET. The Swarm will be celebrating Star Wars Night presented by Peachtree Orthopedics, and players will wear special Star Wars themed jerseys and shorts.
Following the game, fans will have the opportunity to bid on game-used, autographed Star Wars uniforms. Select proceeds from the uniform auction will benefit the Rally Foundation.
Early-arriving fans will receive light-up Bamstix and have the opportunity to mingle with several dozen Star Wars characters in the 501st Legion, Georgia Garrison throughout the game. Tickets start at just $25, and fans can purchase tickets by visiting GeorgiaSwarm.com/StarWars or calling 844-4-GASWARM.