Photo Credit: Paul Sasso, MV Photo Concepts
Story by Ty Merrow
The Georgia Swarm (9-4) handled the Colorado Mammoth (8-7) at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Field at Infinite Energy Arena Saturday night, 21-13. Celebrating Military Appreciation Night at The Hive, Georgia’s offense exploded as the team recorded a season-high and tied a franchise-record in goals.
With the Toronto Rock (8-7) falling to the Vancouver Stealth on Friday night, Georgia gained a momentary 1.5 game lead in the division.
In the third quarter, four different Swarm players recorded the hat trick. After recording nine points (1G, 8A) in the previous three games, Lyle Thompson led the offense tonight, scoring a career-high 11 points (4G, 7A) which was highlighted by him recording the hat trick in a little over three minutes in the third quarter. Five different Swarm players scored nine or more points.
“We focused on playing with a lot of energy, playing with speed and being physical,” head coach Ed Comeau said. “We ran hard through the middle, we set picks with speed, and we were physical on our picks and that created great opportunities for our guys. We’ve got a lot of creative guys. That was the focus, and that needs to be the focus for us going forward.”
The first half began with a goal from Colorado’s Callum Crawford, and the two teams would trade goals back and forth into the second quarter. With the Mammoth up 6-5, assistant captain Shayne Jackson bookended a five-goal run for Georgia, putting the team up 10-6.
Colorado’s Ilija Gajic and Zack Greer brought the team back within two. For the second week in a row, Georgia left for the locker rooms up by two against a team ranked second in its division, this time up 10-8.
“We just had to limit our mistakes,” Jackson said. “We couldn’t give them any transition (goals), give them any easy goals like that to get back into the game. That’s one thing we did want to work on is closing out a game, and that comes back to just playing our game. When we play our game, it doesn’t matter the score. We just keep going.”
Kept going the Swarm did, as Lyle started off another five-goal run within 3:07 minutes. Jeremy Noble – assistant captain Jason Noble’s twin – broke the scoring streak up and Chris Wardle followed up, but the Mammoth were still down by five, 15-10.
Randy Staats and Miles Thompson responded with two more goals for Georgia. Greer had the last word in the quarter, and the buzzer signaling the end of the third quarter rang loud with Georgia up 17-11.
Lyle started things off in the fourth quarter, setting a new career-high in points with 11. Colorado’s Jacob Ruest found the back of the net in response. Jackson would respond about thirty seconds later and followed up almost four minutes after that with his fifth goal of the night. Kile Matisz capped the scoring for Georgia, a season-high 21 goals. This marks the highest number of goals the Swarm have scored since moving to Georgia and ties the franchise record.
Crawford scored the last goal of the night with 74 seconds left, but Georgia was able to kill the clock and emerge victorious, 21-13. Players immediately flooded the floor as the final buzzer rang to celebrate the team’s ninth victory of the season.
Jackson led Georgia in goals with five and recorded four assists. Miles finished with six points (2G, 4A), including a one-handed behind-the-back goal in the third quarter that stunned fans and elicited shocked gasps from the press box.
Jordan Hall finished the night with nine points (2G, 7A), one of four Swarm players to end the night with nine points. Matisz and Staats were also part of the club, with 4G, 5A and 3G, 6A respectively.
Mike Poulin earned the win tonight with his 40 saves, finishing with a 13.00 GAA and a .755 SV%. Colorado’s Dillon Ward was given the loss, chased out from the pipes after Georgia scored 15 goals against him in 33:58 min.
“We traded punches early with them, them scoring and us scoring,” Comeau said. “(Poulin) made a few really big saves on some rebounds and some transition saves. It’s not always the quantity of saves; it’s the quality and timing of the save. When the game was still kind of anyone’s game, he made some huge saves and even lightened the game. He wasn’t upset at his end. He just kept playing right through.”
Georgia takes to the road next week to face the New England Black Wolves for the fourth and final time this season. The division rivals will clash at Mohegan Sun Arena on Friday, April 7. Faceoff is set for 7:05 p.m. ET. Fans can catch the game LIVE via NLLTV.com.
The Swarm returns to The Hive on Saturday, April 15 to take on the Buffalo Bandits for the second time this season. Faceoff is set for 7:05 p.m. The first 1,000 fans will receive a free hot dog. As Georgia looks to seal its playoff berth, the team will announce a Playoff Push package later next week. Tickets are available by calling 844-4-GASWARM or by visiting GeorgiaSwarm.com/SingleGame.
Play of the Game:
Miles Thompson in the third quarter sealed the deal with the play of the game. Colorado had a penalty incoming, and Georgia pulled Poulin to go with the extra attacker. Under pressure in front of the crease and with his left hand held up by a Colorado player, Miles quickly whipped his stick behind his back one-handed. The shot vanished into the upper right corner of the goal past Ward, stunning everyone who saw it.
When asked what was going through his head after he saw the shot, Comeau could only laugh for a few seconds. “You see those guys do stuff like that – I’d like to say nothing surprises me, but I’m sure I still get surprised. We have a lot of creative guys, and they can get the ball to the net in a lot of different ways. Certainly, the guys joke that the only goals (Miles) seems to score are SportsCenter Top 10-type goals. I’m sure that will be a candidate.”