(Buffalo, NY) – Any doubt that the Georgia Swarm are for real was erased on Saturday, Jan. 14, as they defeated the Buffalo Bandits 18-14 at KeyBank Center in front of 13,915 fans. The Swarm are 2-0 for the first time since the 2009 season and have defeated both 2016 Champion’s Cup finalists.
Georgia featured a complete team effort on the offensive end, as 11 different players found the back of the net. Jordan Hall (1G, 4A), Alex Crepinsek (1G, 1A), and Chad Tutton all scored their first goals of the season. The Thompson Brothers trio, MilesThompson (2G, 1A), Lyle Thompson (2G, 6A), and Jerome Thompson (2G, 4A) dominated Buffalo with a third of the Swarm’s total goals. Georgia also capitalized on five power play opportunities. 2016 NLL Rookie of the Year Randy Staats (3G) posted his second-straight hat trick to lead the Swarm in goals.
“It doesn’t really matter who gets the shots,” Swarm head coach Ed Comeau said. “We have lots of guys that can score. I think that type of ball movement makes a team tough to defend. Hopefully we keep that going and guys keep buying into the systems, and we’ll get some positive results.”
Georgia started off the game firing on all cylinders. Lyle Thompson got on the board first with an electrifying shot that flew under the legs of Buffalo goalie Anthony Cosmo. From there, the Swarm rattled off four more goals, three on power plays. Anthony Malcolm would break up Georgia’s streak of five unanswered goals, but the first quarter ended in Georgia’s favor, 6-2.
Almost nine minutes into the first quarter, David DiRuscio was switched in between the pipes, and Buffalo’s defense settled down. Chad Tutton scored his first goal of the season in the second quarter on a beautiful dive shot near the crease. Both teams scored three goals in the quarter and went into halftime 9-5.
A game of ebbs, Georgia came back from the half with a vengeance. After Buffalo’s Brad Self scored the first goal of the third quarter, Georgia decimated Buffalo’s defense to the tune of six unanswered goals. Mike Poulin turned in his best quarter of the game, saving 14 goals and continuing to frustrate the Bandits. Buffalo finished the quarter with two more goals – one on a power play due to a questionable high stick major penalty against Jason Noble – but Georgia was riding high into the fourth quarter to the tune of 15-8.
Maybe too high as Buffalo went on a tear of their own with five unanswered goals, starting with a shorthand goal from Mitch Jones. Frustrated, Georgia would call a timeout to regain their footing.
“Just got to be a little smarter, especially with a lead,” assistant coach Sean Ferris said about what went wrong in that quarter. “It’s good to get that out early, and something we got to clean up.”
Georgia’s defense stepped up as Buffalo would pull their goalie for a 6-on-5 matchup twice. The Swarm managed to steal the ball both times and scored empty net goals, effectively finishing the 2016 East Division leader.
“It’s an East Division game,” Comeau said, “and these are teams you are battling with. So for us to get a win – especially on the road – is huge, and we’re going to enjoy it. Then tomorrow, we start thinking about New England and get ready for Friday night at the Infinite Energy Arena.”
This is the first time the Swarm have started the season off 2-0 since 2009. They took down the top two teams from 2016 with a collective score of 36-24. Mike Poulin played a full 60 minutes and recorded 41 saves as Georgia’s offense did what it unselfishly does best on the other end of the floor. Saturday’s game also continues the trend between the two teams where the visiting team wins, a trend Georgia plans to stop after this victory.
Georgia returns home to Harrah’s Cherokee Field at Infinite Energy Arena this Friday, Jan. 20, to host the New England Black Wolves (0-2) at 7:35 p.m. For only $27, fans can purchase a lower level ticket and Swarm scarf package for Friday’s game. Visit GeorgiaSwarm.com/scarf for tickets.
PLAY OF THE GAME:
Leave it to the Thompsons to take the play of the game for the second week running. Nine minutes into the third quarter, team captain Jordan MacIntosh fed the ball to Lyle Thompson. Lyle jumped straight up at the edge of the crease and shot the ball towards the goal, but Buffalo’s DiRuscio blocked it off his body. Undeterred, Miles Thompson immediately caught the rebound and guided the ball in right behind DiRuscio to score 13th goal of the night. Teamwork makes the dream work.
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