A slugfest in the first half and goalies standing on their heads in the second half defined the Georgia Swarm’s (4-3) 12-11 victory against the Philadelphia Wings (5-3) at Wells Fargo Center.
The Swarm were up 10-7 at the end of the second quarter, and Mike Poulin and Zach Higgins made jaw-dropping save after jaw-dropping save in the back half, as only five goals were scored between the two teams.
“In the second half, we got away from what worked for us, and we stood around,” Swarm head coach Ed Comeau said. “(The Wings) did a good job of getting in lanes, but we stopped swinging the ball. We took some poor shots. Having said that, I thought we did a good job of limiting their offensive opportunities … Happy that we responded with our O guys in the fourth quarter with a couple of huge goals and able to shut the door.”
With the win, the Swarm have taken the season series against the Wings. Shayne Jackson continued his streak of hat tricks in every Swarm game this season, netting it in the first half.
The two teams traded blows in the first quarter, with a pair of goals from Jordan Hall helping to put the Swarm up 4-3 at the end of those 15 minutes.
After the teams switched ends for the second quarter, the Swarm started to separate from the home team. Led by Adam Wiedemann’s transition goal, the Swarm rattled off four consecutive goals before Josh Currier put an end to it. Both teams netted a pair of goals to close out the half with the Swarm up 10-7.
What started as a shootout became a clinic in strong defense and stronger goaltending. Only one goal was scored in the third quarter, an outside rip from Philadelphia’s Kevin Crowley. Randy Staats was assessed with three penalties at the same time late in the quarter, and the Swarm were man-down for the next seven minutes.
The Wings only scored once during that time, courtesy of captain Kiel Matisz to start the fourth quarter. Nearly nine minutes passed before Matt Rambo tied the game up at 10 goals apiece.
Staats gave the Swarm breathing room with back-to-back goals. Currier’s hat trick got the Wings close, but an incredible save from Poulin robbed Blaze Riorden of a sure goal when he was all alone on the crease. With 23 seconds left, possession of the ball, and a Swarm timeout, Poulin made a celebratory fist pump as he headed for the bench.
Lyle Thompson started the final 23 seconds with the ball, killing as much of it as he could despite having three Wings defenders on him. Swarm captain Jordan MacIntosh soaked one last shot right before the final buzzer, and the Swarm concluded their three-game road trip with a 12-11 win.
“The first thing was it gave us the season series,” Poulin said about what this consecutive win does for the Swarm. “…That is massive in sports. As we come down the stretch, these one-goal wins are going to build some character, and that’s important for a championship-caliber team.”
Jackson once again led the Swarm in points with seven (3G, 4A). Lyle (1G, 5A) and Hall (2G, 4A) both had six points, and Staats was next in scoring with four points (3G, 1A). Poulin finished with an assist and 33 saves, good for a .750 SV%.
For the Wings, Rambo led them with seven points (2G, 5A), followed by Crowley’s five points (2G, 3A). Higgins earned the loss after making 32 saves, a .727 SV%.
The Swarm go on a bye week before returning to Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Field at Infinite Energy on Saturday, Feb. 15. They will take on the New York Riptide (1-7) at 7:00 p.m. ET.
“In off-weeks, it’s always about trying to get healthy, get some good workouts in,” Comeau concluded. “Certainly, it gives us a little bit of time to reflect on where we’re at and how we got there, look internally, and after this week, start really preparing for New York. We’re back at home; our last two at home haven’t been the result we wanted, so we want to start playing better at home and get on a little bit of a run against another East Division opponent.”
The Swarm are hosting College Night, and fans can get their tickets at GeorgiaSwarm.com/CollegeNight or by calling 844-4-GASWARM.
The rematch against the Riptide will air in the Metro Atlanta area on Atlanta’s CW69 and over the radio on Atlanta Sports X 1230AM/106.3FM.