Georgia won 11-8 last Saturday night against Toronto in Game 1. Photo Credit: Graig Abel
(DULUTH, Ga.) — The Georgia Swarm (14-5) moved one step closer to the NLL Champion’s Cup with an 11-8 victory against the Toronto Rock (10-10) on Saturday, May 13, 2017 at Air Canada Centre. Georgia now returns home for its first ever playoff game at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Field at Infinite Energy Arena on Saturday, May 20. Faceoff is set for 7:05 p.m. ET.
With a win on Saturday in either Game 2 or a 10-min. mini-Game 3 if necessary, the Swarm can earn its first finals appearance in franchise history.
“When you play all season and have some success like we’ve had, that’s one of the rewards to have home games in the playoffs,” head coach Ed Comeau said. “We’re excited to have an opportunity to play and we’re looking forward to a big crowd and some new fans to the Swarm and to lacrosse, hoping to bring home a victory.”
Game 2 will be streamed live on Twitter to a global audience as the NLL Game of the Week. The game is presented by Axiom Corporation. If Toronto wins Game 2 and ties the series 1-1 games, a 10-minute mini-game (Game 3) will take place after Game 2 at Infinite Energy Arena.
The Swarm is proud to partner with 680 The Fan to host #10KDay this Saturday. Georgia is looking to set a new attendance record of 10,000 fans. Fans can purchase lower level seats for as low as $20 by calling 844-4-GASWARM or by visiting GeorgiaSwarm.com/Playoff.
The first half of Game 1 last weekend saw Georgia down 4-1, but a five-goal run eventually corrected that and helped Georgia win its first playoff game since 2013. Brilliant defense from goaltender Mike Poulin helped hold Toronto to only eight goals on 47 shots.
“Our defense and goaltending was real good, and I thought their defense and goaltending was real good,” Comeau said. “We were able to create some great opportunities in transition, and that was the deciding factor in the game. We want to continue to play aggressive defense and push the pace, push the ball as much as we can, and hopefully our offense gets a little bit on track. I thought the first half we looked a little out of sync. That’s probably a function of how good Toronto played. Given the chance to watch the video and a week of preparation, hopefully our offense can be on track early and generate some good opportunities.”
The two teams will do it all again this weekend at The Hive. Joel White led the offense last Saturday with five points (2G, 3A). Jordan Hall was the only Swarm player to score a hat trick, a performance he capped off with an assist. Assistant captain Shayne Jackson tied Hall for second in scoring that night with his two goals and two assists.
Georgia’s defense will be without Chad Tutton, who sustained a season-ending leg injury in Game 1. Leo Stouros was called up in his place. In 10 games this season, Stouros has recorded an assist, collected 20 loose balls, and caused five turnovers.
“Tutts getting hurt is obviously something you never want to see happen to anyone on any team,” Comeau said. “Not an easy injury either. Chad’s well-liked by the players and coaches. He brings an honest and hard effort every night. He’s a fun guy. Guys like the way he is around the team and around the room. We’re going to miss that, but I think guys know that professional sport injuries, as unfortunate as they are, they do happen. Someone else has to step up and fill that role and do the best they can do. Guys obviously feel bad to have a teammate go down like that. They’ll want to make sure we are able to continue our season and allow Tutts to be there for the ride, albeit on the sideline.”
Toronto will be pulling out all the stops as it tries to even the series and keep its playoff run alive. Georgia held its leading points scorer Tom Schreiber to only two points (1G, 1A) on Saturday. Stephan Leblanc led the Rock offense with four points (1G, 4A) while Reid Reinholdt worked from the shadows with his four assists.
Nick Rose did not get the start between the pipes for the Rock on Saturday. Toronto head coach Matt Sawyer instead started veteran Brandon Miller. While Miller did earn the loss, he only allowed nine goals while blocking 45 shots.
The defense on both ends figures to be another huge factor into Saturday’s contest. Both teams can clinch the East Division Championship on Saturday, May 20 and will be giving it everything they have to ensure their respective seasons continue into June while their opponents go home without a chance at the Champion’s Cup.
“I always like to say to people that lacrosse should come with a warning label: it’s entirely addictive,” Comeau said. “We think it’s a great game. It’s entertaining, has a lot of great aspects of different sports that people like. We want our Swarm fans to be loud. Hopefully we’ll be able to allow them to go home happy.”
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