The Georgia Swarm are starting their 2019-20 NLL campaign with an inter-division contest against the Rochester Knighthawks on Saturday, Nov. 30 at Blue Cross Arena. Face-off is set for 7:00 p.m. ET.
Fans can catch the action for free on the B/R Live app in celebration of the NLL’s opening weekend, and the app can be downloaded through iTunes or Google Play; and/or via Xbox, Apple TV, Android TV, the Roku platform and Amazon Fire TV.
The Swarm have the honor of being the new Knighthawks’ first opponent and prepared for the game with a challenging Training Camp.
“We feel good,” Swarm head coach Ed Comeau said about his team. “Three weeks is tough to get things accomplished in a short period of time, but I think we accomplished a lot of items, a lot of things to prepare us, and it certainly gave us an opportunity to come together as a team.”
The Training Camp was preceded by a productive offseason for the Swarm, which saw the returns of forward Jordan Hall (19G, 48A), transition player Joel White, and draft additions in transition players Kason Tarbell and Ryan MacSpadyen. With their addition to the roster, the Swarm announced their 21-man Active Roster on Monday, Nov. 25.
“This Training Camp was one of the more competitive Swarm camps that we’ve had, and the 31 players we brought out at the beginning of November made our final roster decisions difficult,” Swarm Owner and General Manager John Arlotta said in the announcement. “Our coaches did an excellent job of preparing our players for the upcoming season. I’m excited about the players on our team. Together, they give us the best chance at bringing another championship back to Georgia.”
Preparations in place, the Swarm now turn towards the Knighthawks and how best to start the new franchise on the wrong foot.
“It’s always tough playing an expansion team in terms of preparation,” Comeau noted. “We’re obviously going to talk about their team, but we’ll spend a lot of time talking about us and how we want to play and what we did in Training Camp and try to build upon that.”
The Swarm offense is led by Lyle Thompson (43G, 62A), the Swarm’s points leader for the last three seasons. He is joined on the right side by his brother Miles (23G, 20A), Randy Staats (37G, 59A), and Zed Williams (22G, 23A). The Swarm moved Bryan Cole (10G, 14A) to the offense’s left side where he’ll join Hall and assistant captain Shayne Jackson (31G, 49A), giving the Swarm their most balanced offense in recent memory.
“I really like what we’ve got there,” Comeau said about the lefties. “We’ve got a combination of outside shooters, we’ve got some speed, we’ve got a really good pick and roll game.”
Defensively, the veteran squad is led by captain Jordan MacIntosh and assistant captain Jason Noble. Goaltender Mike Poulin, who had a 10.94 GAA and .791 SV% in 2018-19, returned to the Swarm on a three-year deal in August and is looking to build off one of his best seasons in his 14 years in the NLL.
Opposing them on Saturday will be the new North Division’s Knighthawks, the only time during the 2019-20 regular season that the two clubs will face each other. The offense is led by Shawn Evans, selected first overall in the 2019 NLL Expansion Draft and who had 94 points (28G, 66A) last season with the Buffalo Bandits. Former Swarm forward Holden Cattoni (27G, 53A) was also selected in that same draft, and the duo is joined by Curtis Knight (13G, 35A), Turner Evans (19G, 26A), and Dan Lintner (20G, 17A).
The Knighthawks have three goaltenders on their Active Roster – Steve Fryer, Rylan Hartley, and former Swarm player Craig Wende.
A number of unknowns naturally come with facing an expansion team for the first time, and Comeau and the Swarm are more focused on themselves at this juncture, controlling the controllable.
“I think it’s really about us understanding some tendencies of players and really working on trying to adhere to our principles and really focus on the things that we think we can do really well against a lot of teams when we execute,” Comeau concluded.