The final preseason game for both the Toronto Rock and Georgia Swarm looked like it would be a goaltending duel but that changed in a hurry thanks to the likes of such names as Brett Hickey, Stephan Leblanc, Kiel Matisz and the Thompson brothers with the Swarm coming out on top 17-12 in Oakville on Saturday night.
Things were tight early as Georgia’s Josh Gilliam would beat Brandon Miller less than a minute into the game, but Rock captain Colin Doyle and Brett Hickey would show pushback for Toronto scoresheet as well but the Swarm began to take over this game as they would jump all over Toronto in the 2nd quarter with four unanswered goals to lead 7-3.
Zach Higgins was busy making sure he was doing his best imitation of a brick wall in the Swarm net as he shut down much of the Rock attack in 1st and in the majority of the 2nd quarter.
The 7-3 Georgia cushion would slowly vanish as Toronto made this a 7-6 game with goals from Hickey and Leblanc who’s efforts ultimately couldn’t equalize this one as Kiel Matisz would give the visitors an 8-6 lead and the Thompson brothers would each add another with Leblanc getting one back to send the teams into the dressing room with Georgia up 9-7.
At the start of the 2nd half, Toronto would be the ones to strike early as Leblanc would put home his 3rd goal of the game to cut the Swarm lead back down to one.
Leblanc’s goal would be the only bit of offense that would go into the back of the net for Toronto as once again the Georgia offense would come alive as Johnny Powless who did not play in the first half would join in on the goal scoring action by beating Nick Rose.
Rose replaced Brandon Miller at the start of the 3rd and would finish the game in net.
The Rock came out of the gate for the fourth quarter flying again but the inability to stop the Swarm’s offensive attack was their major issue once again as Georgia would ice things with four more as a Rock charge which also saw Dan Lintner and Turner Evans score would fall short with transition goals and Georgia power play goals getting the better of Toronto all game long.
Even in a losing effort, Brett Hickey put up a game high of five goals on the night as he ended his preseason with 14 goals, while goaltending wise Miler allowed 9 goals on 30 shots and Rose allowed 8 goals on 26 shots.
Afterwards, Rock head coach John Lovell expressed how his team has to limit the amount of transition goals if they want to be successful going forward but did praise the fact that individual players on his roster have been stepping up so far.
“We have to play better as a team, we’re not going to win any games if we give up [powerplay] goals and all of those transition goals and opportunities that we gave up. I’m just not very pleased right now with our effort, but individually, I know we’ve got some great guys and it’s our job to put it together as a team.”
With the scrimmages over, all that’s left for the Rock are practices before their first game of the 2016 campaign in Georgia against this same squad on January 9th.
By Avry Lewis-McDougall for NLL.com.