Earlier in the week, we examined the Top 5 Swarm games because I had a week off from normal game coverage and took that time to write a ton for this week. Today will conclude our mini-look back at the historic Georgia Swarm 2017 season by looking back at the top five Swarm moments in 2017. Don’t agree? Then tell us why on social media. “We Makin’ Noise” also applies to you fans at all time, too.
Continuing our look back on the Swarm’s 2017 regular season, let’s look back at the top five Swarm moments in 2017:
Guinness World Record Set by the Thompson Brothers
Thompson Brothers setting a Guinness World Record | Photo Credit: Kyle Hess
Got to start with some history being made.
The first game of the season for Georgia and Saskatchewan was highlighted by all four Thompson Brothers – Jeremy for Saskatchewan and Jerome, Miles, and Lyle for Georgia – setting a Guinness World Record. On January 7, the Brothers became the first four siblings to play a professional lacrosse game together. NLL Commissioner Nick Sakiewicz said about the event, “The Swarm and Rush going head-to-head will be an intense, action-packed and thrilling game of brother vs. brother. It’s a truly historic moment – for the sport, the league, and the Thompson Brothers.”
He was not wrong. Taking place at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Field at Infinite Energy, Georgia bested the two-time defending champions 18-10. Every Swarm Thompson scored. Jerome finished with two points (1G, 1A), Miles with five points (4G, 1A), and Lyle with eight points (2G, 6A). Jeremy finished the night for Saskatchewan with an assist, six LB, and went 15-for-24 on faceoffs.
“It’s a pretty cool thing to be a part of,” Swarm head coach Ed Comeau said. “When you’ve been involved in lacrosse for a while, you get to say you’ve been involved in a few pretty cool things. This is certainly going to rank up there with them.”
Some Luck o' the Irish | Photo Credit: Paul Sasso, MV Photo Concepts
March 17 of this year marked some bad streaks being snapped by Georgia. The team had lost the two games before this contest, 18-11 at Calgary and 13-8 at New England. St. Patrick’s Day saw the team taking on the Calgary Roughnecks for the second time in the season. The Swarm had not beaten Calgary since March 3, 2012. After the frustrating two weeks prior, it seemed like a lot would have to go right for Georgia when it returned home from its road trip. So what went right?
Well, Randy Staats and Miles came back from the Injured List, having missed the last few games. Joel White was activated from the Holdout List. Comeau and his assistant coaches Sean Ferris and Dan Ladoceur made some lineup changes on the defensive end to accompany goaltenders Mike Poulin and Brodie MacDonald. And while I can’t scientifically prove that the Swarm St. Patrick’s Day-themed uniforms had anything to do with Georgia’s win, I can at least scientifically prove that they look fresh (see above photo for proof).
The Swarm would go on to finally snap its losing streak against Calgary and dish out a little payback for the loss two weeks earlier with a 17-8 win. Ten different Georgia players found the back of the net, and the more transitional defense turned in one of its best games of the season.
The moment that stood out from that night was right when the final buzzer sounded, signaling Georgia’s win. The team cleared the bench and ran to Poulin at the net, jubilant at snapping its two-game losing streak. Players then paraded across the floor, pumping up fans afterwards. When they got back to the locker room, their smiles were as big as they were after Georgia won the first game of the season against Saskatchewan.
#4 Lyle Thompson jealous he was the only Thompson Bros. on the Swarm to not score a BTB goal this season | Photo Credit: Kyle Hess
If you somehow missed the entire season, Georgia has the top offense in the NLL and by a significant margin. Georgia scored a record-setting 266 goals in the season, 35 goals ahead of the next closest team, the Saskatchewan Rush. The Swarm used an incredible combination of aggressiveness, unselfishness, and talent to pummel the league on the way to a league-best 13-5 record.
That talent took place in many forms, but for this piece, I’ll highlight the beautiful back-to-back moments. A bit of a cheat since it features multiple examples, some of Georgia’s best moments came from some slick BTB goals and passes, like:
Jerome in the first game of the season. He pushed right into two Saskatchewan defensemen and beat them all with a BTB that bounced on the left side of the goaltender. Miles receiving a pass from team captain Jordan MacIntosh from behind the goal so he could go BTB against the Colorado Mammoth on February 4 with some lightning reflexes. A play so good that SportsCenter put it in their Top 10 Plays for that Saturday. Miles—wait, Miles again?! Does he only score when SportsCenter is watching? Or in this case, isn’t? Shade aside, Miles second mini-entry on this list was just…insane. Against the Colorado Mammoth (again) on April 1, Miles had the ball, but a defender tied his left hand up by wrapping his stick around it. So what was the solution? A one-hand BTB shot that Colorado’s goaltender barely reacted to? Sure, if that’s what works. Lyle echoed older brother Jerome for his second goal against the Rochester Knighthawks on April 29. Tied up against two defenders, Lyle essentially shrugged and got that ball past everyone, doing his best Jerome/Miles impersonation. Chad Tutton is the only non-Thompson (but is a Thompson Brothers Lacrosse athlete) on this list to score a BTB goal. Kudos. Also against Rochester on April 29, Tutton was fed a quick BTB pass from Jordan Hall (another Thompson Brothers Lacrosse athlete. Seeing a trend here?). He had been trying unsuccessfully to score in transition for the past couple of games, but all it took was a shot from BTB. Duh.
The final BTB against Rochester in this Hive Five featured some phenomenal BTB passing from Hall and Jerome, keeping the ball moving on the power play and giving Lyle the opportunity to score the historic NLL goal.
Let’s face it, I’m missing a couple more fantastic examples of brilliant passing and goals from BTB. Facts are facts. Georgia perfected this skill and utilizes it every time it takes the floor.
Poulin's Increbile Last Second Save
"Goalie's shouldn't leave their feet" is something #30 Mike Poulin never heard | Photo Credit: Kyle Hess
Against Buffalo on April 15 at The Hive, Georgia had a 17-15 lead with 6:11 min. left in regulation. The Bandits fought back desperately, needing this win. Mark Steenhuis scored in transition and Ryan Benesch netted Buffalo’s 16th goal on the power play. Georgia remained man-down, and Buffalo pulled its goaltender to go with the extra attacker. Poulin made a great save, Georgia calling a timeout immediately as he clutched the ball. Georgia started the final 17 seconds with possession. Lyle had it, but almost every Bandits player on the floor ganged up on him, forcing a turnover. The 2016 NLL MVP Dhane Smith came up with the ball and outran his defender. One-on-one with Poulin, he reversed course from his earlier low shooting, leaping up into the air to drop it above Poulin. Poulin stayed with him and left his feet, bouncing the ball off his right shoulder in the last seconds. He was swarmed with teammates after his heroics sealed the deal against Buffalo in one of the most heart-pounding games of the season.
Scroll back up and take a look at that photo. That save was incredible.
NLL Record for Most Goals in a Season
Teamwork makes the dream work | Photo Credit: Kyle Hess
Got to finish with some history being made.
In 2002, the Rochester Knighthawks set the NLL single-season record for most goals scored with 258. Georgia tied that mark in its 17th game, and it was sure to be broken in the final game. No way the best offense in fifteen years wouldn’t score at least once.
Georgia found itself man-up two minutes into the game. Rochester, one of the top teams this season in penalty killing, squared its four defensemen in front of goaltender Angus Goodleaf. The Swarm formed a five-point half-circle around them. Kiel Matisz had the ball and passed counter-clockwise to Lyle. Lyle forwarded it also to his right to Hall. Hall slickly passed it behind his back to Jerome, and Jerome did the same to assistant captain Shayne Jackson. During this time, Lyle had slipped into the center of Rochester’s defensive square. Jackson didn’t miss his opportunity, feeding him the ball quickly. Lyle caught it and shot it in as the Rochester defensemen turned towards him.
Georgia’s MVP-candidate and team leader in goals and points netting the historic 259th goal of the season of some unselfish passing. It doesn’t get better than that.
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