5 Quick Stings ahead of the rubber match between the two East Division rivals
What better way to celebrate the Georgia Swarm’s fourth-consecutive trip to the postseason than with a Friday battle against one of the top teams in the NLL?
The Swarm return home after their two-game New York road trip and will welcome the Toronto Rock for the third and final time this season. So far, the two teams have split their three-game season series, both games in Scotiabank Arena.
Now the Rock are looking to punch their own ticket to the postseason for the first time since 2017, and they’ll get two chances to do so this weekend as they take on the Buffalo Bandits on Saturday. But the quickest way to get back is to win against the Swarm on Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Field at Infinite Energy Arena, something they have not done since…
MARCH 24, 2017
It’s the only time before Jan. 18, 2018 that the Swarm lost to the Rock since 2016. The Swarm warmed up in the second quarter, scoring five goals in the quarter to give themselves a 7-4 lead at halftime. The two teams played even in the third quarter before the Swarm let the Rock climb back into things with a three-goal fourth quarter.
The first-ever overtime in Sting City didn’t take long as Reid Reinholdt netted the game-winner 44 seconds in. Toronto scored the final four goals of the game, evening the season series. The two teams met again in the best-of-three East Division Finals with the Swarm taking that series comfortably.
Since then, the Rock have played in Infinite Energy Arena four times – including those two postseason contests. The Swarm are 4-0 in that span and have outscored the Rock 49-40. But that 3/24/17 game has an unfortunate coincidence with the Swarm’s most recent game where the Swarm let the Knighthawks…
CLAW THEIR WAY BACK INTO THE GAME
Throughout the 2018-19 season, the Swarm have started strong before getting outscored in the final 30 minutes:
|Swarm scoring by quarter|
|1st Quarter||2nd Quarter||3rd Quarter||4th Quarter|
From this graph, we can see that the Swarm tend to come out firing. In the last four games, they’ve outscored opponents 19-11 in the first 15 minutes of those game.
Last week, the Swarm had a comfortable 12-7 lead against the Knighthawks at the half, but said lead evaporated in the third as the home team rattled off five goals. Things became a frantic battle after that in the fourth quarter as the Swarm managed to hold on for the win.
If not for Shayne Jackson stepping up and scoring the Swarm’s last three goals of the contest, then the results could have been different.
The Rock were lucky enough to catch the revamped Knighthawks after the GAvsROC game on Friday. They knew what to expect but still had a fight on their hands, never leading by more than two goals throughout the game.
Last weekend’s bouts against Rochester sets up a perfect situation for a defensive battle between the Swarm and Rock as both goaltenders look to…
Swarm goaltender Mike Poulin made 40 saves on 54 SOG for a .741 SV%, and Rock goaltender Nick Rose stopped 33 of the 46 SOG he faced, a .717 SV%. The Swarm allowed the Knighthawks to put up seven goals in the final two quarters, and the Rock allowed eight against in their first half.
For Rose, last Saturday’s game was a step in the right direction. In the two games before that, he had a .659 SV% against the Roughnecks and a .698 SV% against the Black Wolves. Playing against a Swarm team he’s very familiar with could help that swing continue upward.
For Poulin, he had three straight games with save percentages over .800 before last Friday’s game. The Swarm defense was key in Poulin’s successes, especially against the Bandits when they killed off a 5-min. major penalty and a 5-on-3 situation.
To please the home crowd, the Swarm’s defense will need to get back to form while the Swarm offense needs to…
KEEP ON KEEPING ON
After two of their worst offensive games this season, the Swarm’s offense came back from the bye week with a vengeance. They’re averaging 14.67 GF/GAME through those last three games and have a 20.18 S% and a 71.56 SOG%.
|Swarm Season S% and SOG%|
Since that loss in Denver, the Swarm’s S% and SOG% have increased each game. Keeping those numbers that high will be a difficult task, but it’s such a welcome sign to see from the Swarm’s offense, a key indicator that they’re back on track.
They’ll need to be firing consistently as we enter the final stretch of season. Just because the Swarm clinched their postseason berth doesn’t mean they can…
TAKE IT EASY
There are still four games for the Swarm to play, three of them at home. At 10-4, they’re a full game behind the Buffalo Bandits for the best record in the league and having home floor advantage throughout the postseason. The top four teams in the East Division – Buffalo, Georgia, Toronto, and New England – are collectively 21-5 at home, an 80.77 W%. Home floor advantage would be a huge plus for all four.
Another reason to keep winning? The season series is on the line against the Rock. If the two teams end up with the same record at the end of the season, then whoever wins Friday’s game would get home floor advantage against the other when they meet in May.
Another reason to keep winning? Winning is contagious. It gives a team the confidence it needs to know it can compete with and handle the best of the best.
Need one more reason? How about frustrating a divisional opponent? The Rock can clinch their own playoff spot with a win either Friday or Saturday or if the Wings and Knighthawks both lose this weekend. Chances are good they can get it this weekend, but it’d be better to have a hand in delaying it.
But that’s their problem. For the Swarm, they need to get back to playing a full 60 minutes and continue to make strides. Things will get harder as we get closer and closer to the playoffs. So they’ll want to keep the momentum going into April and hopefully well beyond.
Faceoff for Friday’s game 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 a halftime and postgame concert in the Swarm’s Goal Zone Club.
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.