The Georgia Swarm (2-1) can close out their three-game homestand with a win, but standing in the way are the Buffalo Bandits (1-1) on Saturday, Jan. 11. Face-off at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Field at Infinite Energy Arena is set for 7:00 p.m. ET.
The Swarm are celebrating Lacrosse Out Cancer Night and will wear special purple uniforms, signifying early detection and the fight against all forms of cancer. Each jersey bears the names of those affected by cancer on the back, and the game-worn uniforms will be signed and auctioned off following the game’s conclusion, with proceeds benefiting Rally Foundation. Tickets are available by visiting GeorgiaSwarm.com/LaxOutCancer or by calling 844-4-GASWARM.
Fans in the Metro Atlanta area can also catch the game live on Atlanta’s CW69 or over the radio on the Atlanta Sports X 1230AM/106.3FM.
Both teams are coming off of bye weeks after suffering home losses on Dec. 28. The Swarm were unable to prevent a strong, fourth-quarter effort from the Colorado Mammoth, falling 13-11.
“It’s one game of a season, but it’s a learning opportunity for us,” Swarm head coach Ed Comeau said. “As I said to the guys, it’s only a learning opportunity if we improve because of it. We looked back, now it’s time to look forward.”
At KeyBank Center, the Bandits dropped the opener of their season series against the Halifax Thunderbirds, 15-10. The three Bandits goals in the final minutes of the game mask a dominant Thunderbirds performance, outscoring the home team 6-0 in the second quarter.
The Bandits’ 2019-20 season is still in its infancy, as they will become the final team in the NLL to have played three games. Across two games, the North Division team’s offense finds itself led by the 2016 NLL MVP Dhane Smith (5G, 6A), sophomore forward Chris Cloutier (5G, 4A), and Josh Byrne (4G, 5A). Manning the pipes is the seven-time NLL Goaltender of the Year Matt Vinc, who has a 14.37 GAA and .753 SV% in 91:52 min.
Sharpshooters Lyle Thompson (9G, 10A) and Shayne Jackson (9G, 9A) lead the Swarm offense, both with shooting percentages north of 25 percent. While they are not finding the back of the net as much as they would like, Randy Staats (1G, 14A) and Jordan Hall (2G, 11A) have been phenomenal feeders for one of the NLL’s most potent offenses.
Hall, Thompson, and Zed Williams celebrate after a goal against the Colorado Mammoth on Dec. 28, 2019 | Photo Credit: Kyle Hess
Goaltender Mike Poulin and the Swarm defense did not perform in the third game of the season as well as they did in the opening pair of games, but they still lead the NLL in GA/GAME at 7.67. Poulin’s 170:50 min. in net have seen him post a league-best 7.38 GAA and a second-best .844 SV%.
Given the motivation from trying to ensure their most recent loss is the last one and that games between the Bandits and Swarm are exciting and physical affairs, Comeau expects both teams to bring their “A” games to Sting City on Saturday night.
“I think both coaches would probably agree – we’d love to hold the other team to single digits in goals and hope our offense can put up double digits in goals,” Comeau said. “That’s a tried and true tested way to win in our league … But that’s a big ask, because Buffalo’s defense is pretty dynamic. They’ve got lots of talented guys, and their transition is really good. So, we’re going to have to focus on trying to take care of business in the D zone and certainly limiting their transition opportunities.”