With three weeks of training camp here for the Swarm, the team will get to work narrowing an already slim group of 31 down to 21 members of the Active Roster and four Practice Squad players.
The Swarm have been one of the most successful teams in the NLL over the last four seasons, going to the postseason every year, winning an NLL Cup in ‘17, and posting a 44-18 regular season record. But to continue their run of success, Swarm Owner and General Manager John Arlotta and the three coaches will scrutinize every facet of the Swarm team in the hopes of fielding another world championship-contending team.
It’ll take three weeks to make the six cuts necessary to narrow the roster down to 25. In lieu of fast-forwarding time to Nov. 30 for the Swarm’s Season Opener against the Rochester Knighthawks (or Dec. 14 for Sting City’s Home Opener against the Philadelphia Wings – snag your tickets up at GeorgiaSwarm.com/Tickets), we’ll take a look at the players heading to training camp and the big storylines that will unfold.
Let’s preface this section – and the rest of this article – with the stipulation that no roster spots are guaranteed and every Swarm player will have to prove they belong on the Active Roster.
That point good and established?
Sweet. Let’s start with arguably the most solidified part of the roster – between the pipes.
Poulin – he of the 899:32 min. of 10.94 GAA and .791 SV% – is coming off of one of the best seasons of his long career. Now entering his 15th season, Poulin will prove that he is continuing to age like fine wine.
Kevin saw his first NLL action between the pipes in 2018-19. After an energetic win in his first game in February, the older Orleman showed he still had much to learn while simultaneously displaying some excellence during the remaining 102:32 minutes he played.
After being selected in the second round of the 2018 NLL Entry Draft, Steven spent the entire 2018-19 season on the practice squad, traveling with the team and soaking in as much knowledge as he could.
With the depth chart going in order of experience from most to least, it figures Poulin will be the starter, Kevin the backup, and Steven will head to the Practice Squad – but training camp will sort that out.
In no particular order:
That’s 12 successful defensive veteran names rolling out the back door for the Swarm. If the Swarm go with two goaltenders and seven forwards like how they broke camp last year, then that aforementioned list would fill out the rest of the Active Roster.
Which is (a) insane and (b) a testament to the work Arlotta has done over the years constructing this roster for a long and successful run.
But it also (c) leads us back to the saying that everyone is competing for a roster spot, even returning vets. Those new names the Swarm picked up this offseason will have their work cut out for them to earn their way onto the roster.
The Draft Picks and Rookie Free Agents
Echoing the 2018 NLL Entry Draft, the Swarm selected Kason Tarbell and Ryan MacSpadyen in the 2019 NLL Entry Draft. Both played great defense in the MSL over the summer, Tarbell for the Six Nations Chiefs and MacSpadyen for the Brooklin LC.
The Swarm would go on to pick up TJ Comizio, Gunnar Schimoler, Jordan Gillis, and Mikey Herring in the remaining rounds of the draft. The Swarm also signed rookie free agent Sergio Perkovic – the University of Notre Dame alum and PLL Redwoods LC midfielder – at the end of August. Of those new players, four of them are rather intriguing.
Why? Because Comizio, Herring, Perkovic, and Schimoler all have not played professional box lacrosse at any level.
Box lacrosse moves fast and hard. Field – for all of its speed and hits – just does not compare to the confined chaos of box. Those four Americans will learn all of that firsthand from Nov. 8-10 and try and adjust to it and prove they can hang with the best of them.
And we haven’t even mentioned Sawyer Howell and Justin Lemcke yet. The two players were picked by the Swarm in the 2018 NLL Entry Draft but were cut before training camp after the 2018-19 season’s delay. Now they’ll have a chance to display their skills.
The competition is going to be so good, and we haven’t even touched on the most dangerous part of the Swarm yet.
We’ll split the offense into two in this section – righties and lefties.
And we’ll start with righties because – let’s face it – you could probably place money on which players will see action on the right side this season.
A finalist in 2018-19 for NLL MVP and the Swarm’s points leader for a third consecutive season, Lyle Thompson returns to lead the Swarm offense. Joining him on the right side is his brother, Miles, and Randy Staats – who had the best season of his young career in 2018-19 – and Zed Williams – who benefited from playing out the front door in his sophomore season.
The left side has a wealth of new names outside of assistant captain Shayne Jackson, who will play his eighth season in blue and yellow. After a year playing for the Philadelphia Wings, Jordan Hall rejoins the Swarm on a one-year deal. Zach Miller was acquired from the San Diego Seals in a trade the day of the 2019 NLL Entry Draft and will be coming back from a lower body injury. Finally, LeRoy Halftown – who was picked by the Swarm in the second round of the 2018 NLL Entry Draft and spent the 2018-19 season on the Swarm’s Practice Squad – will look to take the next step in his NLL career and crack the Swarm’s active roster.
There are a lot of names competing for very few spots in this Swarm roster, and frankly, that’s the way Arlotta and the coaches want it. Now they want the players to make their job of narrowing down the roster as difficult as possible.
Nov. 30 will be here before we know it. Then it’s a short jump to the Swarm’s Home Opener against the Philadelphia Wings on Dec. 14. Before that first face-off, make sure to secure your seats at GeorgiaSwarm.com/Tickets today.