The Georgia Swarm (5-2) came out firing against the Saskatchewan Rush (3-2) with five-straight goals, and outlasted the Rush’s comeback attempt to win 13-10. After a tough pair of losses last weekend, the Swarm’s response on Sunday night was an early-season statement win and was led by Randy Staats’ nine points (2G, 7A).
Not to be lost in the Swarm’s victory was Lyle Thompson recording his 300th career point after his seven points (2G, 5A) on Sunday night. The 2017 NLL MVP reached 300 points (138G, 162A) in 61 career games.
“Anytime you lose two, you want to win,” Swarm head coach Ed Comeau said. “You want to win at home, and I think for our group, we know that team (Saskatchewan) down there is a championship-caliber team, and I think we were up for that, and we were also up because we had lost two.”
Lyle broke the ice at the beginning of the game, and the Swarm piled on four more goals to give themselves a 5-0 lead halfway through the first quarter and chase Rush goaltender Evan Kirk from net. Mark Matthews got the Rush on the board before Shayne Jackson recorded the last goal of the quarter, the Swarm up 6-1.
“I said it right after the first quarter: when the offense is firing, it takes a lot of pressure off our D guys,” Chad Tutton said. “I think this was the first real game where we saw our offense just play with ease like they have in years past – not that they’ve been struggling at all, just everything was really clicking, and when that’s happening, it makes our job in the back end so much easier. It makes us kind of feed off their energy, if you know what I mean.”
The second quarter became a defensive battle, with only Zed Williams and Jeff Shattler finding the back of the nets. Compared to the three saves he made in the first quarter, goaltender Mike Poulin made 18 in the second quarter. The Swarm were still up by five at halftime, 7-2.
Williams recorded his first career hat trick after shouldering his way to the crease and diving across it for the goal, widening the Swarm’s lead to six goals. The Rush netted two goals within 40 seconds, but Lyle scored his second goal of the night to put the lead back to five goals.
Marty Dinsdale shrunk the lead again before Staats found the back of the net for the first time that night. With seconds left on the clock, Staats made a feed through traffic to Jackson for a catch-and-release goal, but a challenge flag from the Rush overturned the goal. The Swarm were up 10-5 at the end of the third quarter.
The Rush put themselves back within three goals thanks to Matthews’ hat trick and Shattler’s second goal of the night. Jerome Thompson responded with his first goal of the season, and Staats followed suit to widen the Swarm’s lead back to five goals.
Refusing to go away, the Rush went on a three-goal run, putting the score at 12-10 in the Swarm’s favor. The Swarm defense stepped up down the stretch. With time running out, the Rush pulled their goalie and went with the extra attacker, but it cost them with 1:08 min. left in the game as Connor Sellars scored on the empty netter. Once again, the Swarm ran out the clock, winning their fifth game of the season by a score of 13-10.
Jackson had himself a five-point (1G, 4A) night, followed by Williams and his four point (3G, 1A). Poulin made 46 saves on 56 SOG, good for an .821 SV%.
Shattler led the Rush with seven points (2G, 5A). Dinsdale (3G, 1A) and Ryan Keenan (4A) both had four points. Adam Shute replaced Kirk (40.91 GAA, .500 SV%) between the pipes, playing for the remaining 52:39 min. He allowed only seven GA and made 28 saves, finishing the night with a 7.98 GAA and an .800 SV%.
The Swarm start their upcoming doubleheader weekend at home against the New England Black Wolves (4-1) on Friday, Feb. 1. Faceoff is set for 7:35 p.m. ET. Georgia will be hosting School Spirit Night presented by DoMyOwn. Early arriving fans will receive a Lyle Thompson Drawstring Backpack.
“Our guys, I think they realized about getting a good start,” Comeau said. “We’ve had too many games where we’ve spotted teams two or three goals, and we did the opposite tonight. We got off to a good start. That’s really key, especially at home to get the crowd into it. We can’t rely on one player. We have to have everyone contributing, and that’s something we really had tonight.”
For fans not in attendance, Friday’s game will be broadcast on the B/R Live app available through iTunes, Google Play, Apple TV, Roku and Amazon Fire. Fans can also listen to the game on Atlanta Sports X 1230 AM/106.3 FM.
The Swarm then heads north to take on the Rochester Knighthawks (2-3) for the first time this season. Faceoff for Saturday, Feb. 2 is set for 7:30 p.m. ET.
Play of the Game:
Sunday’s game saw all four Thompson Brothers play in the game – Jeremy Thompson for the Rush and Lyle, Miles and Jerome for the Swarm. In the fourth quarter, Jerome passed to Lyle on the other side of the floor before cutting towards the crease. Lyle proceeded to pass down the alley to Miles, who saw Jerome ahead of his defender. Miles made a quick pass to Jerome, and Jerome made a quick underhand shot to stop the Rush’s two-goal run.