#2 Miles Thompson posted four goals last weekend against Calgary. Photo Credit: Kyle Hess
(Duluth, GA) – The Georgia Swarm (8-3) closes the season series with the Toronto Rock (6-5) this Friday, March 24 at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Field at Infinite Energy Arena. Faceoff is set for 7:35 p.m. Georgia, having bested Toronto earlier this season, will look to improve to a league-best 9-3 record in addition to remaining undefeated at The Hive.
Georgia will also make franchise history with its first post-game concert featuring John Driskell Hopkins, one of the founding members of the Zac Brown Band. A special “Ticket & ZUBAZ Pants“ package is available. Tickets can be purchased by calling 844-4-GASWARM or by visiting GeorgiaSwarm.com/Flashback.
A trio of welcomed returning faces energized Georgia on St. Patrick’s Day. With Randy Staats and Miles Thompson returning from the Injured List and Joel White being reinstated from the Holdout List, Georgia overpowered the Calgary Roughnecks (4-8) on Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Field at Infinite Energy Arena, 17-8.
Miles led the team in goals during the game with four, Staats broke the ice within the first 30 seconds of the contest and finished with five points (2G, 3A), and White collected 15 loose balls. Johnny Powless had a game and season-high seven points (3G, 4A). Lyle Thompson found the back of the net and finished with four assists.
Mike Poulin was on fire between the pipes, allowing a season-low eight goals on 41 shots (full 60 min. played). Taking only .683 shots per minute, Georgia’s more transition-based defense – led by assistant captain Jason Noble, John Ranagan, and Chad Tutton – turned in the best game of the season so far with the team’s season-low in goals. After allowing four goals in the first quarter, Georgia would only allow four more in the last 45 minutes of play.
“We played well,” head coach Ed Comeau said. “We got some guys back in the lineup, and they certainly played with a jump. Getting Joel White back was a big boost for our team. I thought our defense played real well. Being able to hold the team to zero five-on-five goals is a pretty tough thing to do, especially against a talented team like Calgary. We played well defensively, and our goaltending played well.”
As great a win as it was for the Swarm, the team now readies itself for the visiting Toronto Rock. Having fallen last week to the visiting Colorado Mammoth (7-6), Toronto finds itself now two games behind Georgia with the New England Black Wolves (6-6) quickly gaining ground on second in the division.
Georgia and Toronto met earlier in the season on Feb. 17 at Air Canada Centre where a heart-pounding 13-12 Swarm overtime win was needed to settle things between the top two East Division teams. In his first game back from the Injured List, Powless scored the game-winning goal 46 seconds into overtime.
“We saw in Air Canada Centre how good they are,” Comeau said. “They’ve lost a couple of games recently, so that’s going to usually make them more motivated. The division’s wide open. If they can beat us and go on a winning streak and we do the opposite, they could take over first place from us in a couple of weekends.”
Toronto features one of the best defenses in the NLL, led by goaltender Nick Rose. In 663:17 min. this season, Rose leads the league with the lowest GAA at 9.77. His 393 saves are good for a .784 SV%. Toronto as a whole has the lowest GA per game with 10.
“(Rose) is a good goalie,” Comeau said. “Their defense plays a certain style knowing that Nick is going to make a lot of saves for them. Hopefully we can play our style of offense and create really good opportunities offensively, and then bury our chances.”
On the other end is Toronto’s offense, led by rookie Tom Schreiber and veteran Brett Hickey. Schreiber – a clear candidate for Rookie of the Year – leads the team in points with 57 (18G, 39A). Hickey leads the team in goals with 25 and has 18 assists to go with it.
Georgia will readily send out the best offense in the NLL to try and take down the Rock for the second time this season. Averaging a league-best 14.1 goals per game, the team will be led by Lyle and his 70 points (28G, 42A – both team highs). Jordan Hall is quietly the second-highest in points with 51, thanks to his 38 assists.
In his five games since coming back from the Injured List, Powless has scored 23 points (10G, 13A). Assistant captain Shayne Jackson has 42 points (23G, 19A), and Kiel Matisz has 37 (16G, 21A).
With a dominant offense and upward-trending defense, Georgia is ready to get back on the floor at The Hive and remain undefeated at home. The Toronto Rock will also be looking for a win, hoping to get some revenge against Georgia for earlier in the season and trying to gain some ground in the standings in addition to staying ahead of New England.
Fans are encouraged to stay after the game for an historic free post-game concert featuring John Driskell Hopkins, one of the founding members of the Zac Brown Band. The Swarm will also be celebrating #FlashbackFridayNight and has a special “Ticket & ZUBAZ Pants“ package available. Tickets for this historic night are available by calling 844-4-GASWARM or visiting GeorgiaSwarm.com/Flashback.
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