Neither the Georgia Swarm (11-4) nor the San Diego Seals (9-4) lost in March, and one of those winning streaks will come to an end on Friday, April 5 at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Field at Infinite Energy Arena. Faceoff for the first-ever meeting between the two teams is set for 7:35 p.m. ET.
The Swarm will be hosting Ladies Night presented by Infiniti of Gwinnett. The highly anticipated halftime Diamond Drop makes its return, and the Swarm and Tara Fine Jewelry Co. have doubled down on one of the Swarm’s most popular in-game events, offering up a grand prize 1.00 Carat Forevermark Diamond Center Stone set in a Diamond Halo Pendant.
At halftime, the Swarm will drop 300 parachutes from the top of the Arena onto the floor, and one lucky lady will grab the right parachute and win the grand prize valued at $18,000.
Early arriving fans can receive a pair of Swarm Sunglasses courtesy of Infiniti of Gwinnett. Call 844-4-GASWARM or visit GeorgiaSwarm.com/LadiesNight for tickets.
Through March, the Swarm won four-straight games and the Seals five. This Friday, the Swarm hope to clinch home-floor advantage in the first round of the postseason win, and the Seals look to maintain their top spot in the West Division in their first year as an expansion team.
“They’re a really good mix of youth and veteran experience,” Swarm head coach Ed Comeau said. “The veterans have been playing their best lacrosse … People are going to say they surprised people, and no one expects expansion teams to have their type of success, but if you look at their roster and you see the guys they have, it’s no surprise to us.”
In addition to being the first time the two franchises will meet, Friday’s game also marks the first time brothers Randy Staats (Swarm) and Austin Staats (Seals) will play professionally against each other. Randy was named the 2016 NLL Rookie of the Year after his record-setting 95 points (36G, 95A), and Austin is currently the frontrunner for ROY this season with his 59 points (31G, 28A).
“I’m definitely very excited about it,” Randy said. “My whole family’s coming down, so it’s going to be a good, intense environment. It’s going to be different playing against him. I don’t think I’ve ever played against him ever really. It’s definitely going to be interesting, but it doesn’t change what we have to do with regards to getting hard on and off the floor offensively, shutting down their transition and playing a tough game.”
The Swarm are coming off a bye week after arguably their best game of the season, taking the season series against the Toronto Rock with a 14-5 home win. Goaltender Mike Poulin was exceptional that night behind the Swarm defense, stopping 47 shots for a .904 SV%.
“I think Toronto had an off night, and we certainly took advantage of it,” Comeau said. “Going forward, that’s certainly the standard for us, where we really want to get to. It’s a good indication of where we could be, and certainly it’s something we know week in and week out if we want to have success in the playoffs, we’re going to have to put that type of effort forth each and every time we get on the floor.”
That win capped a perfect four-win March for the Swarm. Lyle Thompson and Randy’s strong nights helped boost their respective MVP cases, and the tandem sit second and third respectively for most points in the NLL. Lyle currently has 87 (36G, 51A), and Randy has 85 (33G, 52A).
Behind them sits Holden Cattoni with 64 points (19G, 45A) and Shayne Jackson with 63 points (26G, 37A). Jackson went on a tear in March, averaging six points per game.
Poulin has been strong in net this season, turning in one of the finest stretches of his 14-year career. Throughout March, the Kitchener, Ontario native posted a 9.75 GAA and an .816 SV%. In 815:05 min., Poulin has a 10.75 GAA and a .795 SV%.
“For us offensively, we’re going to have to be patient, and we’re going to have to be smart both in how we try to attack and also how we shoot the ball,” Comeau said. “Frank Scigliano’s a big goalie and covers the net well, but he also moves well. We’re going to have to be patient, and we’re going to have to be very effective. Taking outside shots that have no chance at going in only gives their defense a boost and gives their goaltender confidence.”
The Seals took the season series from the Calgary Roughnecks last Saturday with a 16-9 win on the road. Their veteran players took charge, with Dan Dawson (2G, 6A), Garrett Billings (2G, 6A) and Kyle Buchanan (4G, 4A) all posting eight points.
Billings leads the Seals in points with 64 (15G, 49A) in 11 games, followed by Dawson at 61 (21G, 40A) and Austin’s 59. The rookie’s 31 goals lead the expansion team.
Between the pipes, Scigliano has rewarded the team that picked him up in the 2018 Expansion Draft with some of the strongest goaltending of his career. In 772:58 min., the Coquitlam, British Columbia native has a 9-4 record to complement his 11.02 GAA and .795 SV%.
“They’ve been good on all ends of the floor, and we’re certainly looking forward to that matchup,” Comeau said. “They’re trying to clinch spots in their division and position standings, just like we’re trying to do the same thing. It’s definitely going to have a playoff feel to it.”
Friday’s game will be broadcast on the B/R Live app available through iTunes, Google Play, Apple TV, Roku and Amazon Fire. Fans can also listen to the game on Atlanta Sports X 1230 AM/106.3 FM.