#4 Lyle Thompson. Photo Credit: Kyle Hess
(Duluth, GA) – A hard-fought win for the Georgia Swarm (11-4) on Saturday night saw Georgia re-earn its sole ranking as the top team in the NLL. The Buffalo Bandits (6-10) fought Georgia – figuratively and literally – for the entire game but was unable to hold on to the 8-3 lead the team had in the second quarter.
Now both teams travel to Buffalo’s home at KeyBank Center for their final matchup. Georgia leads the series 2-0 and has the best offense in the NLL, averaging 15 goals per game. On Saturday, April 22, the Swarm will be featured during a LIVE Twitter broadcast when the two teams conclude the season series in the NLL Game of the Week. Faceoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
Georgia clinched first place and the No. 1 playoff seeding in the East Division. Buffalo will again be playing intensely, as its playoff window could very well slam shut with a loss this weekend.
“I think their intensity level is going to be higher,” head coach Ed Comeau said. “Buffalo always play a different style at home in front of a big crowd of 15-plus thousand. We anticipate them being very intense, playing with a lot of energy. This game means a lot to them in terms of staying alive in the playoff run. We know they’ll bring their best and really want to get a win to stay alive.”
Georgia’s offense will look to sting Buffalo hard and fast. In the last three games, the team has an unheard of 19.6 points per game. In two games this season against Buffalo, MVP-candidateLyle Thompson has recorded 16 points (6G, 10A) and currently sits two points shy of 100 on the season, a feat which has never been done before in team history. Jordan Hall has 11 points (2G, 9A), assistant captain Shayne Jackson and Miles Thompson both have 10 points (5G, 5A), Kiel Matisz also has 10 points (2G, 8A), and Randy Staats has nine points (3G, 6A).
Johnny Powless missed the first game and made up for it with an eight point (4G, 4A) performance against the Bandits on Saturday. Mike Poulin has taken 108 shots in 120 min. of play and blocked 78 of them, including the game-winning block against 2016 NLL MVP Dhane Smith’s shot in the final seconds of the game.
Buffalo will battle back, led by Ryan Benesch and his 15 points (9G, 6A) against Georgia this season and Mark Steenhuis’ 11 points (4G, 7A). Smith left the first contest between these two teams with an injury, and bounced back this Saturday with an eight point (3G, 5A) performance of his own.
Georgia has seen both of the duo of Davide DiRuscio and Anthony Cosmo between the pipes. The two have allowed 33 goals on 116 shots – a 16.5 GAA and .715 SV%. Neither have provided an answer at stopping the dominant Swarm offense.
With so much on the line for Buffalo, the team will need to come out firing on all cylinders. Having gotten a taste of that passion last weekend, Georgia will be ready to overcome the Bandits one final time in 2017 and bury Buffalo’s playoff hopes.
Broadcast Info: Fans can catch the game LIVE on Twitter as the NLL Game of the Week by visiting NLL.twitter.com or via NLLtv.com.
The Swarm’s final home game at The Hive will be on Saturday, April 29 against the Rochester Knighthawks. Faceoff is set for 7:05 p.m. Join the team as it celebrates Fan Appreciation Night. The first 3,000 fans will receive a commemorative team poster. All players and coaches will be on the field post-game for autographs and photos. Fans can take advantage of the team’s Playoff Push package by calling 844-4-GASWARM or by visiting GeorgiaSwarm.com/PlayoffPush for $25 tickets.