The Swarm (4-6) played well at times offensively and were effective in power play situations but couldn’t keep pace with Halifax’s relentless barrage on Georgia’s netminders.
Halifax scored twice in the first two minutes of the game before MVP front-runner and NLL goals and points leader Lyle Thompson fed Brendan Bomberry for a goal that cut Halifax’s early lead to 2-1. Thompson then tied it up at 2-2 at the 9:20 mark with a blast from 20 feet that grazed Warren Hill’s right shoulder and found net.
Just a minute later, the Swarm delivered on their first power play of the evening on a Thunderbirds’ illegal substitution that ended in a nifty Jordan MacIntosh behind-the-back highlight-reel score after an equally impressive behind-the-back Shayne Jackson assist in front of the crease to give the Swarm their only lead of the night, 3-2.
Cody Jamieson found Kyle Jackson wide open in front of Poulin with just over 5 minutes to play in the first quarter, and Jackson took advantage with a dart past the Swarm goalie to even the score at 3-3.
Just a minute later the Thunderbirds’ David Brock took advantage of a quick transition on a Swarm turnover and found the net at close range to regain the lead at 4-3.
Sixty seconds later Lyle Thompson returned the favor, taking a Jordan MacIntosh feed, muscling his way in front of the net and sliding one past Hill to tie the game at 4-4 with 3:11 in the opening frame.
Halifax had a power play opportunity at 2:41 when Kason Tarbell was whistled for a body-check, and Jamieson made the Swarm pay for the man down, swiftly pushing one past Poulin as Halifax jumped back on top, 5-4. Halifax wasn’t done scoring in the quarter, as they found net once more in the final two minutes of the third to put the Swarm in 6-4 hole after 15 minutes of regulation that saw a combined 22 shots and 10 goals.
The scoring spree continued after the quarter break, as the Swarm’s Bomberry fed Jordan Hall just 90 seconds into the second to pull Georgia to within a goal, 6-5.
The Thunderbirds’ responded as Austin Shanks completed a hat trick for Halifax with just under 10 minutes remaining in the second quarter, extending the Thunderbirds’ lead to 7-5.
Kyle Jackson scored his second goal of the game to give Halifax its second 3-goal lead of the night, 8-5, which prompted Swarm Heed Coach Ed Comeau to pull starting goaltender Mike Poulin at the 7:32 mark of the second quarter and insert backup Craig Wende.
Wende initially responded well after spelling Poulin, stopping the first five shots that came his way to temporarily stop the bleeding for the Swarm. But Halifax’s relentless attack eventually got to Wende, who stayed between the pipes the rest of the evening for Georgia.
A Joel White hold and a MacIntosh body-check put Georgia in an untenable two-down situation at the 3:45 mark of the second quarter when Shanks found himself alone at the crease to Wende’s right and slid his fourth goal of the night past the Swarm backup to give Halifax a commanding 9-5 lead.
The two teams traded goals (Shayne Jackson for the Swarm and Petterson for the Thunderbirds) before time expired in the half with Halifax on top, 10-6.
With just 30 minutes in the books, Halifax (27) and Georgia (23) had combined for an astonishing 50 shots on goal.
Down four goals with two quarters remaining, the Swarm needed some quick scores to make this one competitive again. Instead it was Halifax who slipped two goals past Craig Wende in the first 54 seconds of the second half, first from Chris Boushy and then a SportsCenter-worthy dart from Keough that extended the Thunderbirds’ margin to 12-6. Just two minutes later Keough punctuated his highlight-reel goal with another score to join teammate Shanks with a hat trick.
The Swarm stopped the 4-0 Halifax run with 6:10 left in the third as Jordan Hall converted a power play opportunity after a nifty pass from Lyle Thompson to make it a 13-7 affair that capped off the third-quarter scoring.
Bryan Cole and Colton Armstrong dropped their gloves and engaged in a brief skirmish with 59 seconds left in the third, sending two Thunderbirds to the penalty box, to the Swarm’s one, giving Georgia a man-advantage for the final minute. But Halifax fended off the Swarm power play attack with a couple of highlight-reel saves by Warren Hill.
With the game firmly in hand, 13-7, Halifax coasted to a 15-10 victory in the fourth quarter that never saw Georgia threaten the final outcome.
Brendan Bomberry notched a beautiful power-play goal past the stingy Hill with 11:50 remaining in regulation to cut the lead to 14-8. But Shanks answered seconds later for his sixth goal of the evening, a sock-trick that gave Halifax a 15-8 advantage.
Bomberry was back at it again five minutes later with a dish to Cole, who hammered another power-play goal past Hill to bring Georgia to within six, and Shayne Jackson found net inside of the last two minutes to get the Swarm into double-digits and cap off the scoring on the evening.
Shayne Jackson and Brendan Bomberry paced the Swarm offensively, each scoring 2 goals and dishing out 3 assists. Lyle Thompson (2G, 3A) and Jordan MacIntosh (1G, 5A) also aided the offense.
The Swarm finished the game 4 of 6 on power plays, while Halifax capitalized on 3 of 6 man-up opportunities. In what has become an Achilles heel for the Swarm this season, Halifax dominated the face-off battle on the night, winning 21 of 27 meetings at the dot.
Craig Wende played 36:38 minutes, weathering 34 shots on goal, and saving 27. Poulin played 22:28 minutes, saving 8 of the 16 shots he faced.