Swarm and Bandits meet in season series finale in KeyBank Center
The Georgia Swarm (8-4) put themselves back in the win column last weekend and will use the momentum this Saturday, March 9 when they take on the first place Buffalo Bandits (9-2) at KeyBank Center. Faceoff is set for 7:30 p.m. ET.
The Swarm bested the Rochester Knighthawks 15-11 last Saturday in front of 8,410 fans, the second-largest crowd in Georgia Swarm history. Swarm players rode the wave of support with nine different Swarm players finding the back of the net and the defense turning in another strong performance.
“One of the key things we talk about is trying to win the five-on-five game, and we were able to do that,” Swarm head coach Ed Comeau said. “That’s something that’s really critical as the season continues on is the number of penalties decrease. You want to win the five-on-five game and you want to come out even or better in the transition game, and we did that. We felt good about it, but we know that game’s over with now, and we need a bigger and better effort going into Buffalo this weekend.”
In Buffalo await the Bandits, the top team in the NLL currently. The Swarm will have to wait their turn on on Saturday as the home team takes on the Philadelphia Wings Friday night before returning to KeyBank Center to face the Swarm.
When the two teams last met, the Swarm fell at home 19-9 to the Bandits on Feb. 9. The loss stung the Swarm and has stuck with them since then.
“Buffalo’s been really good and they’ve been really consistent all year,” Comeau said. “We learned a valuable lesson against them when we played them in Georgia.”
In addition to leaning on lessons learned, the Swarm will be counting on the continued strong performance of Lyle Thompson and Randy Staats. Thompson sits in second in the NLL in both points (69) and goals (30). Staats is tied for fourth in the league in points (66) and assists (43).
Standing steadily between the pipes is Mike Poulin. With a 7-4 record, Poulin has spent 635:05 min. in net and posted an 11.15 GAA and a .788 SV%.
The Bandits are led by Shawn Evans – who is tied with Lyle with 69 points (23G, 46A) – and Dhane Smith – who is tied with Staats with 66 points (16G, 50A). At goal is Matt Vinc, leading the league with nine wins. Vinc has a 10.34 GAA and a league-leading .799 SV% over 626:54 min.
Despite having a bye week last weekend, the Bandits should be warmed up and ready to go against the Swarm on Saturday with their game the night before. The Swarm will expect the best from the Bandits and their own personal best to make up for the loss in February.
“I think if they were coming completely on an off-week, it would give us the opportunity to jump on them early … We know we have to bring a lot better efforts in Buffalo than what we gave them in Georgia, that’s for sure,” Comeau said.
Saturday’s game will be broadcast on the B/R Live app available through iTunes, Google Play, Apple TV, Roku and Amazon Fire.