Swarm take to road for first contest against Riptide
Swarm's first game in New York kicks off three-game road trip
January 16, 2020By: Ty Merrow
The Georgia Swarm (2-2) begin a three-game travel schedule which starts with their first-ever contest against the New York Riptide (0-5) at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Face-off on Saturday, Jan. 18 is set for 7:30 p.m. ET.
A two-game home skid dropped the Swarm to .500, and the perfect panacea would be a victory against an expansion club which has yet to win a game. But bravado is not afforded to the Swarm, who’s back-to-back losses brought to light deficiencies in the defensive side of the ball and an offense struggling to cash in consistently.
The Riptide have not had an easy start to their inaugural season, having been outscored by an astonishing 32 goals in just five games. Struggles are expected for any expansion club, and the Riptide have found themselves to be the rule, not the exception.
To their credit, they have shown progress. Their most recent game was two weeks ago against the Philadelphia Wings, and while the Wings left Long Island with a 15-12 win, the Riptide did come from behind after being down four goals at halftime and tied the game up at 12 apiece.
“New York, record aside, each game I think they’ve gotten better,” Swarm head coach Ed Comeau said. “It takes time for that group to gel, and they’re getting better each and every week. That’s our goal, too, and we really haven’t done that. I think both teams are in the same boat right now, that they’re trying to get a win and trying to get better.”
Alex Buque faces a shot from Philadelphia’s Kevin Crowley two weeks ago | Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre
Tyler Digby leads the Riptide in points with 17 (8G, 9A), followed by Connor Kelly’s 15 points (5G, 10A) and Dan Lomas with 14 points (7G, 7A). Goaltender Alex Buque has played 292:29 min. of the Riptide’s season, and his 13.95 GAA and .755 SV% is reflective of the struggles he and the Riptide defense have gone through.
Despite the opponent in front of them, the focus for the Swarm will have to be aimed predominantly inwards. The defense went from the best in the NLL to sixth best after the last two weekends, and the offense has struggled to capitalize on high-danger chances against two of the strongest NLL netminders.
“After you lose a couple of games in a row and you lose one that was kind of an embarrassing loss, it does tend to make you look inside as opposed to outside,” Comeau said. “That doesn’t mean that we’re not taking New York seriously by any stretch. It means that we need to identify what we’re doing wrong and the mistakes that we’re committing.”
Shayne Jackson has been the most consistent part of the Swarm’s offense, leading the men in blue and yellow with 24 points (12G, 12A). Lyle Thompson is right on Jackson’s heels with 23 points (9G, 14A), and Randy Staats – who is coming off of his best game of the season – has 21 points (4G, 17A).
Between the pipes, Mike Poulin has seen his numbers slide in tandem with the Swarm’s. He now sports a 2-2 record, 9.62 GAA, and .803 SV% over 230:50 min.
There is still plenty of season left, and not having bye weeks interrupt their rhythm will be key for the Swarm to begin trending in the right direction.
“It’s important that we start this road trip playing the way that we’re capable of playing. I think that’s the first message. We think if we do that, everything else will take care of itself. But that’s really the message to our guys. Let’s focus on what we’ve got to do, and let’s execute it. We’re talking a lot about it, and you know, the time for talking’s over,” Comeau said.
The Swarm’s next home game will be on Saturday, Feb. 15 when they welcome the Calgary Roughnecks to Sting City for the first time since 2017. The Swarm are hosting College Night, and fans can purchase ticket at GeorgiaSwarm.com/CollegeNight or by calling 844-4-GASWARM.
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