Working overtime? The Toronto Rock and the Georgia Swarm don’t seem to mind.
The Rock and the Swarm prepare to renew their rivalry on Saturday, March 3 at the Air Canada Centre in a crucial East-Division matchup.
The two teams have provided some very entertaining lacrosse over the past two seasons. In the last three regular-season games dating back to last year, the two teams have required overtime to determine in a winner.
The latest episode was two weeks ago (Feb. 17) in Georgia where Swarm forward Shayne Jackson scored the overtime winner to cap a stunning comeback. The Rock opened the game on a 5-0 run but were outscored 9-3 heading into halftime. Trailing by one late in the fourth quarter, Georgia’s Miles Thompson beat Nick Rose to tie the game at 13-13 to force overtime, allowing Jackson to complete the comeback.
“That was a heck of a lacrosse game,” Rock coach Matt Sawyer said. “We’ve played them five times in the last two years [including playoffs]. They’ve all been really close games. But that one two weeks ago, that was a tough one to lose. It wasn’t for the lack of effort. You’d like to win. We didn’t. We have a second chance on Saturday.”
The Swarm are the defending Champion’s Cup winners but got off to a rocky start this season, winning just once in their first four games. Coach Ed Comeau hopes the gutsy comeback victory could be a turning point heading into the second half of the season.
“I think the win two weeks ago was a big one for us,” Comeau reiterated to NLL.com. “It’s a reminder of how hard it is to win in this league. If you want to be successful, you have to go out and play at your best level. It was a big win for us. Hopefully it got our minds around where we need to be week in and week out.”
Highly competitive East Division
The Swarm play back-to-back games this weekend starting at home against the Colorado Mammoth on Friday, March 2 before travelling to Toronto for Saturday’s clash.
The East Division remains very close as all five teams are within 1.5 games of each other. The Rock (5-4) sit second – tied with the New England Black Wolves. The Swarm (4-5) are in the bottom but remain very much in contention for one of the three East Division playoff spots. With the Swarm playing two games this weekend, the East Division standings could look very different after this weekend.
“You’d be naive not to look at the standings and see what’s going on,” Sawyer explained to NLL.com. “Each and every game in the back half of the season is that much more important. A couple of good weeks, we could be at the top of the standings. A couple of bad weeks, we could be at the bottom.”
Life without Tom Schreiber
The Rock continue their quest for the playoffs without forward Tom Schreiber. The 26-year-old star from East Meadow, N.Y. suffered a partially torn Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL) in his left knee against the Rochester Knighthawks on Feb. 10. The timeline for recovery is six-to-eight weeks, meaning Schreiber is scheduled to be back in time for the stretch run of the regular season.
In the meantime, the Rock will count on forward Dan Lintner who will be in the lineup for the second straight game on Saturday. Lintner – who has mostly been a healthy scratch this year – was slotted into the lineup on Feb. 17 for the first time since Stephan Leblanc was traded two months ago. The 25-year-old Lintner responded by opening the scoring 22 seconds in the game.
“It’s an opportunity for Dan to carve out a role in our offense,” Sawyer said. “He’s a goal scorer but he does a lot of little things. We’re lucky to have someone at his calibre in a depth role…But everyone is going to need to step up while [Schreiber] is gone. No individual will replace him but as a team, we can get better on offense and on defense. That’s how you keep a team at a high level even after losing one of the best players in the league.”
Saturday’s game is the second of three meetings between the two teams. Opening draw is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. ET.
For ticket information, check out www.torontorock.com. Fans can also tune in online to watch live through NLLTV.