By Matt Cullen | NLL.com Staff Writer
Photo Credit Graig Abel
Missing the first six games of the season with a concussion, Johnny Powless was itching to get back in the lineup.
When he finally suited up on Friday, it didn’t take long for the 23-year-old to make the most of it.
Powless scored 46 seconds into overtime giving the Georgia Swarm (6-1) a thrilling 13-12 overtime victory against the Toronto Rock (4-2) on Friday in front of 8,385 fans at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.
On Georgia’s first possession in overtime, Powless (2G, 3A) took a pass on the right side and with the shot clock winding down, fired the ball which grazed goaltender Nick Rose’s shoulder and trickled over the line.
“It was pretty overwhelming for him,” head coach Ed Comeau said of Powless’ performance. “He’s a veteran guy and he has played in a lot of big games. We told him, ‘Johnny, you can’t make up for games you’ve missed. You just have to go out there and play your game and not try to do too much.’ He did a great job of that.”
“Sitting out watching is never fun,” Powless told NLL.com “Just to get back here and play in front of my family and friends is awesome.”
The NLL’s top two teams coming into the contest, the Swarm and Rock did not disappoint, going back-and-forth in an electric atmosphere in the final few minutes. Trailing by one with the goaltender on the bench, Georgia equalized as Shayne Jackson (2G, 1A) powered the ball past Rose on the power play with 3.2 seconds left to force overtime.
LATE PENALTY COSTS ROCK
Moments earlier with the game tied 11-11, 18-year-old Rock rookie Latrell Harris scored on a breakaway with 1:01 remaining to give Toronto the lead. But just 12 seconds later, Harris took an interference penalty, giving Georgia’s potent power play a chance to tie.
“That was quite the little roller coaster there,” Rose told NLL.com. “Latrell made an incredible play to win that game. We just couldn’t hold on.”
The Swarm went 5-for-6 on the power play while the Rock cashed in on 3-of-6.
“We did what we wanted out there,” Rock head coach Matt Sawyer said. “In a tight game like that, we made more mistakes than they did, and they were able to capitalize.”
Lyle Thompson had nine points (1G, 8A) for the Swarm, who now lead the East Division by 1.5 games over the Rock.
ROCK QUIET SWARM EARLY
Toronto got off to a strong start with rookie leading-scorer Tom Schreiber (1G, 5A) igniting the offense. The East Meadow N.Y., native was in on the Rock’s first five goals, setting up Dan Lintner, then Kieran McArdle twice, before assisting on Turner Evans’ fifth of the season. Schreiber then notched his 10th of the year at the 12:14 mark of the first quarter, beating Swarm goaltender Mike Poulin five-hole to put Toronto ahead 5-2 after one quarter.
The game turned into a defensive struggle in the second frame, as the two teams combined for just three goals, all on the power play. The Rock took a 6-4 lead into halftime after Georgia’s Jordan Hall (1G, 5A) and Lyle Thompson were able to beat Rose while Rock veteran Brett Hickey countered with this 13th of the season.
Both offenses came alive in the third quarter scoring a combined nine times, highlighted by a goal-of-the-year candidate, courtesy of Georgia’s three Thompson brothers. Jerome fed younger brother Lyle, who went behind the back to Miles. He somehow put the ball past Rose from what seemed like an impossible angle on the goal line to cut the Rock lead to 7-6 at 4:27 of the third.
“Those guys have been doing that probably since they were in diapers,” Comeau said. “They have good timing and their skill level is great. They’ve been a great asset for us this year.”
With the game tied 7-7, hard-nosed Rock defender Sandy Chapman picked up his 100th point with the club, setting up Damon Edwards for a goal in transition. The two teams continued to go back-and-forth in a frantic third frame, which finished with a hat-trick goal from McArdle (3G), the first of his NLL career. McArdle’s seventh of the year gave Toronto a 10-9 advantage after three quarters.
The Rock have little time to rest as they travel to Rochester to take on the Knighthawks the following day, Saturday, Feb. 18. The Swarm are back in action on Sunday, Feb. 19 to battle the very same Knighthawks in Georgia.
Three Stars Selected by the Media:
- Lyle Thompson (GA)
- Kiel Matisz (GA)
- Tom Schreiber (TOR)