Game Previews

Swarm takes on New England Saturday

Swarm aims to even season series against Black Wolves and will wear Cherokee-themed uniforms

 

Looking to string together back-to-back wins for the first time since Jan., the Georgia Swarm (6-7) continues its three-game homestand with a visit from the New England Black Wolves (6-5) on Saturday, March 24. Faceoff at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Field at Infinite Energy Arena is set for 7:05 p.m. ET.

Georgia is hosting Native American Heritage Night presented by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Swarm players will be wearing custom uniforms honoring the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Fans will have the opportunity to bid on their favorite players’ game-worn and autographed jerseys during the game and online.

The first 2,000 fans will receive a Miles Thompson Bobblehead. Fans can purchase tickets at GeorgiaSwarm.com/Heritage or by calling 844-4-GASWARM.

The Swarm exacted revenge last Sunday against the Buffalo Bandits, using a five-goal performance from Lyle Thompson to leave The Hive with a 14-10 win and hand Buffalo its fourth-straight loss.

“We played much more like the way we wanted to,” Swarm head coach Ed Comeau said. “We had good dialogue last week offensively about some things we needed to do. It starts with your special teams. When you go 4-for-5 on your power plays, that’s a huge benefit to your team.”

While Georgia waits for Saturday night, New England welcomes the Buffalo Bandits on Friday before traveling to Duluth for the second contest of the season between the Swarm and Black Wolves. The last time the two met, New England won at home, 13-11.

The Swarm was led by Jesse King (3G, 2A), Kiel Matisz (1G, 4A) and Randy Staats (4G, 1A). Goaltender Mike Poulin made 36 saves on 49 SOG to finish the night with a .735 SV%.

Former Black Wolves forward Shawn Evans led the Black Wolves with nine points (2G, 7A), followed by Kevin Crowley with five points (4G, 1A). Goaltender Aaron Bold made 33 saves on 44 SOG, finishing the night with his first win of the season and a .750 SV%.

“There’s a couple things from our previous matchup, how we shot and the play of a couple of their players that we’ll take away from that game, but it changes,” Comeau said. “New England has some different weapons, looks a little bit different.”

Evans is no longer on the Black Wolves roster, as New England traded him to Buffalo for Callum Crawford. New England also acquired Johnny Powless from Georgia in Feb. In two games with New England, Crawford has seven points (2G, 5A). Powless has produced six points (4G, 2A) in his three games with the pack.

“We’re familiar with Johnny and know Johnny’s going to be fired up to play against us, no doubt,” Comeau said. “He’s capable of having a big night, just as their other lefties. I think their right side commands a lot of attention and as a result of that, sometimes the lefts are given some really good opportunities because people are so focused on Crowley and (Kyle) Buchanan and Crawford.”

A lot of time has passed since Georgia fell to New England at the beginning of the 2017-18 season. The Swarm currently sits in a three-way tie with Buffalo and Rochester, and all three are a game out of first place.

Assistant captain Shayne Jackson leads Georgia in points and assists with 61 and 38 respectively. Lyle leads the team in goals with 27 and sits second on the team with 58 points.

Poulin and the Swarm defense have become a force in the past five games. The defense has a 10.4 GA/GAME during that span. Poulin has improved his season numbers to 12.13 GAA and a .773 SV%.

New England has a lot riding on its only doubleheader weekend this season, as two losses can drop it out of first place. While it cannot do anything about Friday’s results, Georgia waits patiently for Saturday to do what it can to improve its record and drop the Black Wolves down the standings.