Georgia Swarm forward Holden Cattoni was happy playing for the Calgary Roughnecks. They were his hometown team, located only 16 miles from where Cattoni grew up in De Winton, Alberta. Cattoni, along with his younger brother, were Roughnecks ball boys from the age of seven. Holden considered himself “The longest serving Roughneck.”
And then on September 25, 2018 during the 2018 NLL Draft in Philadelphia, Cattoni, after playing his first two years in the league with Calgary, was traded to the Swarm along with the No. 7 pick in the draft for Jesse King and the No. 23 pick.
“I was very sad,” said Cattoni about being traded from the Roughnecks. “It’s always nice playing in front of family and friends every night. But it opened up an exciting possibility of playing for the Swarm and I’ve loved my time in Georgia so far.”
The sadness went away quickly for Cattoni upon joining the Swarm. How could it not when you join a team ripe with talent, such as Lyle and Miles Thompson and Randy Staats, one of the best goaltenders in the game in Mike Poulin and a team two years removed from an NLL Championship?
“It’s been a lot of fun,” said Cattoni. “There have been some growing pains as we have new guys on offense. It has been a challenge at times and the team is trying to figure it out.”
Since joining the Swarm last offseason, Cattoni has teamed up with Randy Staats and Lyle Thompson, both perennial MVP candidates year in and year out, to form one of the league’s most dynamic offenses. With a record of 8-4 as of week 13, the Swarm have scored the second most points in the league (143). With Cattoni (55 points), Staats (66) and Thompson (69) leading the charge, the Swarm are the only team in the league to have three players in the top 10 in points.
When you add in forward Shayne Jackson (44 points) and transition player Zed Williams (27 points), it’s made Swarm head coach Ed Comeau’s job of drawing up the offensive game plan that much easier.
“They all do a good job moving their feet and being unselfish,” said Comeau. “We aren’t concerned about who scores. It’s about our success, whether it’s great goals, assists or loose balls. Those are all things we need to do and that’s all a part of being successful team. It’s certainly a by product of how unselfish we are and the style we play.”
The Swarm have proven they can win in multiple ways this season. In their season-opening 16-12 win against New England, Jackson scored three times with both Thompson brothers, Staats, and Cattoni each finding the net twice.
In their 10-8 win at home against New England on February 1st, Lyle (three goals) and Staats (two goals) were the only two Swarm players to find the net multiple times. Mike Poulin anchored the team with 38 saves on 48 shots.
And in Saturday’s 15-11 win over Rochester, it was Staats, Williams and transition player Bryan Cole each with three goals. Jackson, Cattoni, Lyle and Miles Thompson, Brendan Bomberry and Jordan MacIntosh each added one goal.
Cattoni made his biggest jump from his first year in the NLL to his second year. As a rookie, he scored only seven goals with 19 assists but was used in the Roughnecks offense primarily to set picks. In his second year he broke out, scoring 36 goals and collecting 40 assists. His shooting percentage spiked as well, climbing from 9.3% to 17.0%
Even though Cattoni only has 18 goals this year through 12 games, he feels good about how his game has progressed, and even better about his transition to playing in Georgia.
“I think my confidence is great,” said Cattoni. “I’ve been struggling to get goals this year. Fitting into a new team is always challenging but I’m happy with my production and our team and I’m excited to play with all the guys in my offense. Hopefully my goals go up.”
“I think it’s been a really good fit so far,” said Comeau. “We worked with him and we tried to figure out, as a new guy coming, how to best fit in with the group. But he’s done a good job and he continues to follow and do what we ask and he’s executing. I think he’d be the first to say he’d like to have more goals, but he’ll get those.”
With six games left, the Swarm are all but a lock to make the playoffs. Their two upcoming games are on the road against division rivals (at Buffalo on March 9th and at Rochester on March 15th), before finishing the season with three home games in the final four weeks of the season.
“We just have to make sure we move the ball and get open through the middle of the field” said Cattoni. “It’s a huge part of our offense. When we go through droughts we rely on ourselves instead of playing as a team, but that comes with chemistry and being a pretty new group overall.”
“I couldn’t ask for a more comfortable situation to come into and hopefully we make a run at the NLL championship.”
The Swarm travel to Buffalo to take on the Bandits on Saturday, March 9th at 7:30 p.m. EST.
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