by Ty Merrow
Going for their third-straight win in March, the Georgia Swarm (9-4) stay in New York for their road trip, heading east from Buffalo to take on the Rochester Knighthawks (2-8) on Friday, March 15. Faceoff is set for 7:30 p.m. ET.
The Swarm are aiming to sweep the Knighthawks in 2018-19, but they face an unusual situation: the Knighthawks made several trades during their recent bye week, and the Swarm might as well be facing a new team altogether.
“We’re not too worried about their trades; we’re more worried about our roster and what we’re doing and how we’re playing,” Swarm head coach Ed Comeau said. “We’ve seen this with teams in the past, and we know whatever 17 guys they put on the floor that night, they’re going to be motivated, they’re going to be ready, and we need to be the same.”
The Knighthawks traded away three of their veteran defenseman for future draft picks and a young defender while acquiring some new firepower out the front door. With the likes of Ryan Benesch joining Rochester’s offensive system, the Swarm will not be sure how the Knighthawks’ changes will manifest on the floor. Instead, the Swarm have chosen to review their own play of recent.
“Much like it is early in the year when you have new rosters in place and there’s not a lot of video, we kind of talk about that as a time to focus on our team,” Comeau said. “That’s going to be our message here. Certainly look at players they have and have a game plan for the ones that we know of, but really focus a lot on what we need to do to be successful and what we’ve done recently to be successful”
Before the bye week, the Knighthawks dropped their second game against the Swarm and fifth loss in a row on March 2. The Swarm used a seven-goal run to pull away in the second half of their 15-11 win on Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Field at Infinite Energy Arena.
Lyle Thompson led the Swarm in points with seven (1G, 6A) as Bryan Cole, Randy Staats and Zed Williams all recorded hat tricks.
After their win against the Knighthawks on March 2, the Swarm went to KeyBank Center to rectify an earlier loss in February to the Buffalo Bandits. They did just that, handling the top team in the NLL with a 14-9 victory.
Shayne Jackson recorded six points (2G, 4A) as Mike Poulin and the Swarm defense became the first team this season to hold the Bandits to just single digits in goals.
“From start to finish, it was probably our best, complete effort of the year,” Comeau said. “We played well the entire game, and certainly with the adversity with penalties and stuff, we did a nice job of getting ourselves out of that. That’s a sign of a team that was really dialed in, that they didn’t let a couple of calls and some man-short situations throughout much of the second quarter affect us.”
Lyle leads the Swarm in points with 73 (31G, 42A), and nipping on his heels is Staats with 70 points (26G, 44A). Poulin has a 10.96 GAA and a .790 SV% after last Saturday’s game.
The Knighthawks are led by Cody Jamieson with 50 points (19G, 31A), and newcomer Benesch brings his 47 points (17G, 30A) with him from the Mammoth.
The Swarm have chased Knighthawks goaltender Angus Goodleaf from the pipes both times he has started against them. For the season, Goodleaf has a 13.62 GAA and a .751 SV%.
Former Swarm backup Warren Hill ended up facing his old team after replacing Goodleaf between the pipes in those games and has made 62 saves against the Swarm over 62:53 min. For the season, Hill has an 11.76 GAA and an .806 SV%.
Despite the Knighthawks’ record and roster shakeup, the Swarm will have to play measured lacrosse against a team looking to play spoiler and simultaneously salvage its season.
“We know regardless of who they have down there – along with some really good players – they’re going to have some other guys that are going to have an opportunity to play, and they want to prove they belong in the NLL and that they can be everyday players,” Comeau concluded.
“For us, I don’t think there are any expectations other than we’re going to go in and we’re going to get the best that Rochester has, and we’re going to have to give our best to come out of their with a win.”
Friday’s game will be broadcast on the B/R Live app available through iTunes, Google Play, Apple TV, Roku and Amazon Fire.
The Swarm return to Harrah’s Cherokee Casino at Infinite Energy Arena on Friday, March 22 for the rubber match against the Toronto Rock. Faceoff is set for 7:35 p.m. ET. The Swarm are hosting Faith & Family Night presented by Howard Brothers Hardware. North Point Community Church’s InsideOut Band will perform in the Swarm Goal Zone Club at halftime and postgame.
Early arriving fans can receive a Swarm light-up foam stick courtesy of Howard Brothers Hardware. Call 844-4-GASWARM or visit GeorgiaSwarm.com/FaithAndFamilyNight for tickets.