(Saturday, Jan. 30) – The Georgia Swarm (3-2) stayed hot Saturday night, defeating the Rochester Knighthawks (2-2) 13-9 at The Blue Cross Arena in front of 8,770 fans. Georgia finished the weekend 2-0 and climbed up to second place in the East Division, and trails only the New England Black Wolves (3-1) by a .5 game for first.
After its offensive exploded for 20 goals Friday evening in Toronto, Georgia’s defense stole the show in Rochester, limiting one of the league’s most potent offenses to nine goals. Goalie Brodie MacDonald collected his second win of the weekend, and held the Knighthawks scoreless for the first 21 minutes of action. The 6-foot-7 goalie finished the night with 49 saves on 58 shots.
MacDonald and Co. held Rochester to just two goals in the first half, and only four scores as the two teams entered the final quarter of play, with the Swarm leading comfortably at 9-4. Rochester scored five goals in the fourth, but the Swarm’s offense responded when it needed to, posting four of its own.
“The defense played really well, they were really letting me challenge the ball, and made them take the shots that we wanted them to take,” MacDonald said, who collected wins in the same weekend for the first time in his young career.
The Swarm entered the doubleheader with a 1-2 record and as the fourth place team in the East Division; it left the weekend making a serious statement to its fellow East Division foes. In total, Georgia’s offense scored 33 goals, and its defense stepped up during crucial stretches late in games.
“It’s tough to win in this league on back-to-backs, and it’s certainly tough to win on the road,” Swarm head coach Ed Comeau said. “This is not the easiest of back-to-backs, playing in two really tough buildings. Our guys managed the highs and lows really well.”
“The boys battled back really hard these last two games,” rookie forward Randy Staats said. “We didn’t fail when adversity hit us, I think that was the biggest thing from this weekend. Our opponents came back and battled back to keep up the score there, and we did a good job of handling it and answering offensively.”
Staats finished with a team-high eight points (2G, 6A) Saturday, and is tied for the team lead in points (26) during his first-year in the NLL. Afterward, Staats was quick to point out that the Swarm’s offense prides itself in moving the ball as a unit, and that no-one is worried about individual accolades despite having many high-profile scorers.
“Everyone is getting happy for each other… It’s a total team effort,” Staats added. “Everyone is buying into the systems here.”
Comeau agreed, “The guys are playing really unselfish, they’re moving the ball. Nobody is worried about who is taking the shot, they’re just worried about getting the shot.”
After notching the No. 5 play on SportsCenter Friday evening, forward Miles Thompson kept his stick hot with five points (3G, 2A), while Johnny Powless (3G, 3A) finished the weekend with a team-high seven goals. Powless leads the Swarm with 13 goals and is tied with Staats for first on the team with 26 points.
The Swarm jumped out to an early 4-0 lead against Rochester, and scored the first three goals of the second half to build an 8-2 advantage.
“Getting out to a little bit of a lead was great for us,” Comeau said. “We played with energy and as the game went on, we felt like we were in control.”
Georgia heads West next weekend to face the Calgary Roughnecks (2-2) for a 9 p.m. ET faceoff on Saturday, Feb. 6. The Swarm returns home to Harrah's Cherokee Casino Field at Infinite Energy Arena for a Valentine’s Day showdown on Sunday, Feb. 14 against the Buffalo Bandits at 2:05 p.m. To purchase tickets, call 844-4-GASWARM or visit GeorgiaSwarm.com
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