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Rock And Swarm Clash For The First Time Since The 2017 East Division Finals

Kyle Hess

The Toronto Rock made an announcement on Tuesday which stunned many throughout the lacrosse world.

The 2017 NLL ROY Tom Schreiber suffered a partially torn Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL) in his left knee in Saturday’s contest against the Rochester Knighthawks. While the injury does not necessitate surgery, Schreiber will still be out for the next 6-8 weeks.

“It’s a big blow to anybody who loses one of their best players,” Rock head coach Matt Sawyer said. “It’s an opportunity for others, and we feel well equipped to absorb the loss of that magnitude right now.”

Toronto (5-3) gets to prove how well it can absorb that loss as the team heads south to take on the Georgia Swarm (3-5) at Infinite Energy Arena on Saturday, Feb. 17. Faceoff is set for 7:05 p.m. ET. The game will also feature a 10-minute halftime and 30-minute postgame performance by country artist Scotty McCreery.

Georgia worked its way up to .500 ball before last weekend’s doubleheader plummeted it to fourth in the East Division standings. Over its losses to Buffalo and Rochester, the Swarm was outscored 35-19.

This season, Shayne Jackson leads the Swarm in points with 41 (15G, 26A). Last season’s NLL MVP Lyle Thompson sits second on the team in points with 36 (14G, 22A). Goaltender Mike Poulin was chased out from the pipes in both games of the doubleheader and currently has a 13.46 GAA and a .749 SV%.

The Swarm is struggling to put a full sixty-minute effort on the floor and reproduce the successes it had during the 2017 season, but the Rock are not rolling into Duluth expecting an easy game.

“(The Swarm) is a team that’s much better than their record right now indicates,” Sawyer said. “Every team goes through some ups-and-downs. We certainly can’t take them lightly. We don’t look at is as we’re fortunate to play them right now when they had a rough weekend last week … They’re the defending champions for a reason, and we better be ready to face them on Saturday, or else we’re not going to be successful.”

Even with the loss of Schreiber, one of the three heads of Toronto’s dangerous Cerberus-esque scoring trio, the Rock’s offense is still one of the best in the league with the team averaging an even 15 GF/GAME. Adam Jones leads the team in points with 52 (21G, 31A), and Rob Hellyer is third on the team with 44 points (18G, 26A).

“From our perspective, we know his absence is going to be an opportunity for another player to step up,” Swarm head coach Ed Comeau said about Schreiber’s injury. “They have lots of highly effective offensive players in their lineup. No one person is ever going to replace what Tom Schreiber did for them this year, but that just means other guys are going to get opportunities and get some more shots and get some more touches. With or without Tom, they’re going to be an extremely dangerous team.”

Goaltender Nick Rose has been solid in between the pipes for the Rock. Over 420:03 min., Rose has an 11.28 GAA and a .779 SV%. The strong Rock defense has an 11.63 GA/GAME over its eight games this season.

The two teams have not met since the East Division Finals in 2017. Georgia swept Toronto in that series, but so much time and roster changes have happened that the teams are significantly different in certain areas.

Presently, Toronto sits half a game behind Buffalo in the standings, and with the Bandits having a bye week, the Rock can shrink that gap with a win in hostile territory. Georgia will have spent its short week doing some soul searching, hoping it can climb itself out of the hole it dug.

“In order to be successful in this league, you need consistency over more than just a quarter and a half,” Comeau said. “You need to put full games together. Looking at teams that are winning right now, that’s exactly what they’re doing. We think we know what we need to do. We need to make sure we are ready at opening faceoff and ready to go and play a full game.”

Fans can catch the game LIVE via NLLTV.com.