(FEB. 20 – BUFFALO) – The Georgia Swarm (4-4) used an 8-3 fourth quarter run to defeat the Buffalo Bandits (4-4) Saturday night by a score of 19-15 in front of 14,515 fans at First Niagara Center. The win launched the Swarm up the East Division standings where they now sit tied for second place; Georgia will face the division-leading New England Black Wolves (4-2) next Sunday on the road for a 3 p.m. ET showdown.
“We played hard right from the start-to-the-finish, even when we were down a couple,” Swarm head coach Ed Comeau said. “There was no quit and good composure by the guys tonight.”
After a tough 21-14 loss last weekend at home to Buffalo, the Swarm came out hungry Saturday night on the road looking for payback against their division foe. The game started in Buffalo’s favor as the Bandits built an 8-4 lead midway through the second quarter. A goalie switch on the Swarm’s end – Zach Higgins in replacement of Brodie MacDonald – along with a five-minute major penalty from Bandits defenseman Billy Dee Smith helped Georgia score the next four goals and changed the momentum of the game.
Trailing by just one to start the fourth quarter at 12-11, the Swarm’s offense caught fire during a five-goal run to stun Buffalo’s home crowd. Georgia went on to finish the quarter with eight goals en route to their third road victory of the season.
“We had a couple of key transition goals and those are real back-breaker goals, especially to a team who is coming off a game the night before,” said Comeau in regards to the Swarm’s fourth quarter run. “We had a lot of shots on goal and we started to get some balls to drop near the end. The amount of possessions we had and the movement on offense helped us get better opportunities late in the game.”
In total, seven players scored at least two goals for the Swarm and Georgia’s 19 goals marked its second highest single-game total this season. After Saturday’s win, Georgia’s offense now ranks first in the NLL averaging 13.75 goals per game.
Rookie forward Jesse King led the Swarm with a career-high seven points (3G, 4A) and recorded his first career NLL hat trick. The Swarm’s leading scorer Johnny Powless stayed hot, posting six points (3G, 3A) and now has 42 points on the season (22G, 20A). Georgia was very effective in transition Saturday night as both Joel White and David Earl scored a season-high two goals apiece.
Higgins earned his first win of the season in net after logging 42:29 minutes of action and finished the game with 29 saves on 36 shots.
“That’s exactly what you want a guy to do coming off the bench,” Comeau said. “He made some big saves and gave us a chance to claw back into it. We’ve learned a couple times the last few games that when you’re down by four that doesn’t mean a whole lot.”
On special teams, transition player Jordan MacIntosh collected a season-high 20 loose balls and won 17-of-34 faceoffs. The Swarm’s team captain also added four points (1G, 3A) and a team-high four caused turnovers.
Georgia’s offense finished the night 3-for-4 on the power play and outshot Buffalo 73-to-57.
The Bandits we led by 11 points (4G, 7A) from Dhane Smith who leads the NLL in scoring. Goalie Anthony Cosmo set the NLL all-time saves record Saturday night but collected the loss after allowing 15 goals.
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