The Georgia Swarm (2-2) were outscored by eight goals in the first half of Saturday’s game against the Buffalo Bandits (2-1), essentially eliminated from the game early on the way to a 16-10 loss on Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Field at Infinite Energy Arena.
The Swarm wore special uniforms for Lacrosse Out Cancer, and fans can bid on the signed, game-worn uniforms at GeorgiaSwarm.com/LaxOutCancer. Proceeds benefit Rally Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit which raises awareness and funds for childhood cancer research.
A stronger second-half effort put the Swarm withing striking distance of the North Division team, but their inability to capitalize on opportunities in the fourth quarter were the final nail in the coffin, hammered in by the first shorthand goal allowed by the Swarm in the 2019-20 season.
“They’ve (the Bandits) unbelievable shooters over there,” Swarm assistant coach Dan Ladouceur said. “We gave them too much space, we weren’t closing gaps, we weren’t playing with energy, and there was an overall lack of trust. We were sliding to help, and guys didn’t need it … Offensively, we were stagnant. They didn’t move the ball. We talked about against this defense, being quick and making a move. That’s a big-bodied defense out there, so we wanted to move quick and make them run with us, draw some penalties, and we didn’t do any of those things in the first half.”
Miles Thompson was the Swarm’s only offense in the first quarter, but his pair of goals were a third of the Bandits’ production. Shayne Jackson would be responsible for the Swarm’s lone goal in the second quarter. For the Bandits, five different players netted a goal in the second quarter, two of them in transition. When the teams went to their locker rooms, the Swarm were down 11-3.
Adding injury to insult, Bryan Cole went down hard in the first quarter and did not return, necessitating sophomore defenseman Adam Wiedemann playing out the front door.
“He’s (Cole) going to get looked at tomorrow and report back to us…” Ladouceur said. “Going down a lefty like that is tough in the second quarter, and asking other guys to step up – even being down a body when you’re playing a high-paced game like that is just hard.”
Coming back from the locker room, the Swarm treated the game as if the score was 0-0, outscoring the visiting team by a goal in each quarter. Ladouceur noted the defense made adjustments better and slid better, forcing the Bandits to dish the ball to other lanes. Despite the seven goals, it was too little, too late for the Swarm.
Swarm celebrate a goal | Photo Credit: Kyle Hess
Randy Staats potted a pair of power play goals in the third quarter, shooting the same way in the same spot on the floor. In the final frame, both Staats and Jacksonrecorded their hat trick goals. Matt Spanger earned a slashing major penalty after a hit to the back of Jackson’s helmet, knocking him down and his helmet clean off his head.
Jackson was unable to come back into the game until the next hard stop in play, which was the final media timeout of the game, and the Swarm were unable to capitalize on the five-minute man-advantage. Josh Byrne’s hat trick, a shorthanded marker, was the final dagger, giving the Swarm their second straight home loss of the season.
For the Bandits, Chris Cloutier and Chase Fraser – playing in his first game of the season after coming off the Physically Unable to Perform List – both posted six points (3G, 3A), tied with alternate captain Dhane Smith (1G, 5A). Matt Vinc stood tall early and often Saturday night, making 45 saves for an .833 SV%.
The Swarm saw Staats turn in his best game of the season as he recorded six points (3G, 3A), the same production as what Jackson put forth. Lyle Thompson and Jordan Hall were next in points for the home team, both with four assists. Mike Poulin earned his second loss of the season after stopping 34 shots on goal, finishing the night with a .680 SV%.
Now the Swarm turn their attention north for their first-ever game against the expansion New York Riptide (0-5) at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Saturday, Jan. 18. Face-off is set for 7:30 p.m. ET. Fans can catch the game live on B/R Live. Game five for the Swarm marks the first time all season they will not have to go through a bye week before facing their next opponent.
“Happy with that, happy in not having a bye week, happy in not having to talk to guys for film or on the phone,” Ladouceur said. “I’m happy to be connected with the guys. That was the message in here: this is where we are, and wherever we go from here, it’s together. No one’s going to come in and pull a fire sale after two games…
“I don’t think the overall message changes. Eddie (Swarm head coach Ed Comeau) always talks about playing Swarm lacrosse, and I don’t think we’ve seen it. We saw some of it, but the message from me today was consistency. We haven’t played consistently for 60 minutes, and that was the challenge coming into this week. We didn’t meet it. So, we have to reup that challenge and go into New York and do it.”
The Swarm’s next home game will be on Saturday, Feb. 15 when they welcome the Calgary Roughnecks to Sting City for the first time since 2017. The Swarm are hosting College Night, and fans can purchase ticket at GeorgiaSwarm.com/CollegeNight or by calling 844-4-GASWARM.