The Georgia Swarm (1-3) were unable to hand the visiting Saskatchewan Rush (3-0) its first loss of the season on Saturday as the Rush left town with a 13-9 win. Despite the loss, Georgia celebrated its inaugural Star Wars Night at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Field at Infinite Energy Arena as over 50 Star Wars characters entertained fans during the night.
Georgia kept things close going into the half as a defensive battle unfolded, but a six-goal third quarter for Saskatchewan was enough of a cushion for the visiting team to remain undefeated.
“Five-on-five game, we were even with Saskatchewan,” Swarm head coach Ed Comeau said. “We got crushed on the transition game. We scored a couple late ones that made it look better than what it was, but we gave up six goals in the third quarter and four of them were transition. That was the difference. We talked about it; it wasn’t anything we didn’t expect from them. We knew they were going to run and create those opportunities. We’ve seen them do it in their first two games. That really was the difference. We have to address how we take care of that and how we turn it around.”
It was a frantic 15 minutes in the first quarter. Both teams made plenty of shots, but Evan Kirk and Mike Poulin were dominant. The only goal of the quarter came courtesy of Robert Church off a quick pass from Ryan Keenan.
Jeff Shattler started things off in the second quarter before Georgia got on the board courtesy of Shayne Jackson. Penalties would start taking their toll against Georgia. The Rush found itself man-up three times in the second quarter and cashed in on two, but not before Jackson scored the first shorthand goal of the season for the Swarm. Jesse King had the final say of the night, and both teams headed for the locker room with the Rush still with the lead, 5-3.
“It’s about staying positive,” Jackson said. “A couple bounces go our way, it’s a tied game. Kirk played unbelievable tonight. As long as we’re getting the chances, I think we’re alright. I thought we got the chances tonight. It’s just about burying them.”
The Rush continued to press the lead in the third quarter as Jeremy Thompson scored in transition. Jackson would answer with his hat trick, Church retaliated and Staats scored on the power play to put Georgia within two goals, the Rush still up 7-5. Things unraveled as the Rush began a four-goal run to end the third quarter up 11-5.
The men in blue and yellow did not quit as the fourth started with a goal from Lyle Thompson. Rookie Zed Williams got in on the action with a stick fake before scoring, lowering the gap to four goals, but the Rush capitalized on a power play opportunity before Church got his hat trick to widen the lead back to six. King scored his second of the night before Williams finished the night’s scoring with a behind-the-back goal. Georgia dropped its third game of the season 13-9 to fall to 1-3.
Jackson led the Swarm in scoring with three goals and King and Williams scored two apiece. After holding the Rush to only one goal in the first quarter, Poulin ended the night with the loss. He made 41 saves on 54 SOG, good for a .759 SV%.
“I think the message is last year is last year,” Comeau said. “Holidays, all the other distractions are over. It’s time to get into a rhythm and play. It’s about preparing during the week physically, preparing mentally, getting out with your sticks and making sure that we’re physically and mentally ready to play in Calgary.”
Georgia takes to the road with a visit to Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday, Jan. 13 to take on the Calgary Roughnecks (1-3). Faceoff is set for 9:00 p.m. ET. Fans can catch the game LIVE via NLLTV.com.
Georgia’s next home game is on Sunday, Feb. 11 against the Rochester Knighthawks. Faceoff is set for 6:05 p.m. ET. Fans can get tickets by visiting Georgia Swarm.com/Tickets or by calling 844-4-GASWARM.
Play of the Game:
It may have come at the end of the game, but that did not make it any less impressive. Making a final push, Kiel Matisz took a hard shot on goal, but it was blocked. All alone in front of Kirk, Williams snagged the ball. He faced Kirk and made a lightning-quick behind-the-back shot that stunned everyone in Infinite Energy Arena.