Georgia’s first professional world championship in nearly 22 years will be celebrated on Saturday, Dec. 30 as the Georgia Swarm unveils its 2017 NLL World Champion Banner at its Home Opener. The Swarm (0-2) takes on the Rochester Knighthawks (2-0) at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Field at Infinite Energy Arena at 7:05 p.m. ET.
In addition to unveiling its world championship banner, Swarm players and coaches will receive their championship rings before the game. To celebrate the historic night, Atlanta-based GRAMMY® Award-winning hip hop artist 2 Chainz will perform during halftime. Tickets for Saturday are available at GeorgiaSwarm.com/2Chainz or by calling 844-4-GASWARM.
“Few teams and few players get an opportunity to wear a championship ring and see a banner raised,” Swarm head coach Ed Comeau said. “We’re excited to do that for the fans in Georgia and the Arlotta family. It’ll be a good weekend for that, but it’s only a good weekend if we follow through and play our game and get the result we want.”
A tough 14-11 loss to the Colorado Mammoth last Saturday will be fresh on Georgia’s mind as it returns to The Hive. The game was an exciting match with the two teams trading blows for three quarters, but Colorado outscored the Swarm 7-1 in the fourth quarter to take and bury the lead.
Lyle Thompson led the Swarm with seven points (2G, 5A), and assistant captain Shayne Jackson scored a hat trick – two off of the power play – and notched two assists. Between the pipes, Mike Poulin made 42 saves on 55 SOG, finishing the night with the loss, a 13 GAA, and a .736 SV%.
“We’re disappointed with our record, but we own it,” Comeau said. “We didn’t play well enough for sixty minutes in either game to get a win, and that’s a good refresher for us to remember how hard it is to win in this league and the importance of putting together full games to get wins.”
Rochester welcomed the Buffalo Bandits last Saturday to Blue Cross Arena before sending the Bandits packing after a 21-11 defeat. Dan Dawson led the Knighthawks in points that night with nine (3G, 6A), followed by Joe Resetarits with eight points (3G, 5A) and Cory Vitarelli with six points (3G, 3A). While he may not have recorded a goal, Cody Jamieson had six assists to finish the night. Matt Vinc remained stellar at goal by making 55 saves on 66 SOG. Vinc leads the league in nearly every positive goalie stat, highlighted by an 8.50 GAA and an .848 SV%.
“We know Rochester’s goaltending has been good for a lot of years, and from what we’ve seen from the first two games, their goaltending has been exceptional,” Comeau said. “That really helps your defense, there’s no question.”
Georgia and Rochester played each other three times in 2017 with the Swarm taking the series 2-1. The final game of the season saw Rochester emerge victorious after a tough defensive game from both sides. The two were tied until the final second when Graeme Hossack scored an empty net goal for the Knighthawks, finishing Rochester’s 7-11 season with a win.
Lyle leads Georgia in points so far in the season with 11 (3G, 8A), and Jackson (5G, 4A), Randy Staats (5G, 4A), and Kiel Matisz (3G, 6A) are all tied for second on the team with nine points each. After missing last season due to injury, Jesse King has been solid in his return, notching a hat trick in his first game back and recording seven points (4G, 3A) in two games.
In the 2017 season, Rochester featured a strong defense but was last in the league in GF/Game with 9.72. This season has been the opposite as the team has started off firing on all cylinders, sitting second offensively in the league with 38 goals over two games, a 19 GF/GAME. The Swarm, seeking its first win this season, has a tough challenge ahead of it as it looks to get back to championship form.
“We know Rochester is playing really well right now,” Comeau said. “We’re going to need to play really well and as I said earlier, we need to play a full game. I thought we’ve played real well the first two games at times, but half a game’s don’t get you full results.”
Fans can watch Georgia take on Rochester on Dec. 30 LIVE via NLLTV.com. Saturday’s matchup is also the Twitter Game of the Week and will be broadcasted LIVE via live.Twitter.com/NLL.