Photo Credit: Paul Sasso
Story by Ty Merrow
The conclusion to the season series between the Georgia Swarm (8-4) and Toronto Rock (7-5) at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Field at Infinite Energy Arena ended in overtime as Toronto won, 12-11.
An energetic crowd witnessed the first-ever overtime game at Infinite Energy Arena, which had hearts pounding nonstop, but Toronto ultimately ended things with a four-goal run at the end of the game. The Rock also handed the Swarm their first loss at home this season. Friday’s game also featured the Swarm’s first-ever post game concert as John Driskell Hopkins, one of the founding members of the Zac Brown Band, performed.
Friday’s contest featured everything a lacrosse fan could want and was highlighted by a plethora of spectacular saves from Georgia’s Mike Poulin and Toronto’s Nick Rose. Poulin ended the night with 48 saves on 60 shots, and Rose earned the win with his 46 saves on 57 shots.
“It was a really good game back-and-forth,” head coach Ed Comeau said. “I thought we had our chances. I thought both goalies were exceptional. Both made some real key saves that kept their teams alive. It’s a tough loss for us, but we knew they were a good team, and they certainly didn’t quit.”
The first quarter began with Randy Staats breaking the ice again. Great defense from Georgia kept Toronto turning the ball over, and assistant captain Shayne Jackson would net the second goal of the game. Toronto evened the score before the 15 minutes were finished off goals from Kasey Beirnes and Latrell Harris.
The Rock would score within the first two minutes with a diving goal from Brett Hickey. Miles Thompson responded a minute later to even things up again, but Toronto regained the lead 11 seconds later from a one-on-one goal from Jordan Magnuson.
Georgia went on a four-goal tear after Magnuson’s goal. Led by a power play goal from Miles, Johnny Powless and Staats followed up with goals of their own in a little over a minute’s time. Captain Jordan MacIntosh capped the streak 10 minutes into the quarter. Toronto had the last word as Hickey scored again, bringing the score back within two. As the halftime buzzer rang, Georgia was up 7-5.
Toronto came back out strong in the second half with a power play goal from Tom Schreiber and the hat trick for Hickey, also a power play goal. Tied at seven, over five minutes of scoreless play ensued. Connor Sellars finally got the ball and ran the floor for an unassisted goal. Staats followed up quickly to put Georgia up by two. In a man-down situation, MacIntosh intercepted a Toronto pass and broke away in transition. With Rock defenders fast approaching, he passed the ball forward to Joel White. Only his second game of the season, White netted a shorthand goal – his first goal in 2017. Hickey would help Toronto climb back within two.
The fourth quarter started with Georgia up 10-8. Staats scored his fourth and Georgia’s final goal of the night to put the team back up by three. Momentum shifted, though, and Toronto scored the last three goals in regulation. The tying goal came from an extra attacker situation Reid Reinholdt was able to take advantage of with a little over a minute left.
Georgia’s first overtime game at the Infinite Energy Arena was over as quickly as the Swarm’s overtime victory against Toronto earlier this season, but this time with the exact opposite result. Reinholdt found the net within 44 seconds, and the Rock ended Georgia’s perfect home record with a 12-11 victory.
Miles found the goal twice tonight, and Staats finished with five points (4G, 1A). MacIntosh went 15-for-23 on faceoff opportunities while netting a goal and two assists. Powless recorded four points (1G, 3A).
Georgia’s defense played well beside Poulin, causing seven turnovers in addition to two major transition goals courtesy of Sellars and White. After making 17 saves in the first half, Poulin recorded 31 in the final 30 minutes.
“(Poulin) definitely bailed us out in the second half,” assistant captain Jason Noble said. “If you look at both halves, I think there were way more shots in the second half. He’s great back there. He’s the backbone of our defense, and when he puts up a performance like that, it’s kind of disappointing that we don’t pull out the win for him.”
Georgia concludes its three-game homestand on Saturday, April 1 against the Colorado Mammoth. The two teams met earlier in the season at the Pepsi Center as Colorado handed Georgia its first loss of the season. Faceoff for the rematch is set for 7:05 p.m.
“Colorado’s playing good,” Comeau said. “They’re No. 2 in the West right now, and certainly have been playing real well. We went out there, and they gave us a four-goal loss, so that will be fresh in our minds. We’ll need to make sure we play complete games. Their goalie’s been playing real well, and they have a lot of young guys contributing out there.”
Join Georgia as it celebrates Military Appreciation Night, which honors current and past military service members next Saturday. For every ticket purchased, the Swarm will be making an equal ticket donation to our local heroes. Tickets are available by calling 844-4-GASWARM or by visiting GeorgiaSwarm.com/MilitaryNight.