The Georgia Swarm (12-4) won their fifth-straight game by handily besting the San Diego Seals (9-5) at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Field at Infinite Energy Arena on Friday. With the win in front of 9,344 fans and a Buffalo Bandits’ loss earlier in the night, the Swarm now move into a tie for first place in the East Division.
Threes ruled the night for the Swarm: Miles Thompson, Holden Cattoni, and Shayne Jackson all had hat tricks, Cattoni’s a natural hat trick. The team also scored three shorthanded goals, all in the fourth quarter.
“We had a good game plan going in, and we executed,” Swarm head coach Ed Comeau said. “I said to someone in the intermission interviews our offense is based on everyone touching the ball, everyone moving their feet, and we did that.”
“The fact that guys can’t key in on Lyle (Thompson) or Randy, myself or Jackson is huge,” Cattoni said. “The fact that they have to play us as a unit and not individuals is really difficult for defenses, and I think that showed tonight.”
The night was highlighted by a matchup between brother Randy and Austin Staats. It was the first time the two have played against each other professionally, but Randy had the better night with his seven points (1G, 6A) and the win.
“I think both those guys would say the most important thing was to get the win, and we were lucky enough for Randy to be on the side with the win,” Comeau said. “It’s a great moment for both those boys. Both are such great competitors, and they had a lot of family here, their parents and friends.”
Bryan Cole kicked things off by scoring on top of the crease, followed by Randy’s first of the night. A pick and roll from Dan Dawson halved the Swarm’s lead. Chad Tutton made an accurate pass to Lyle on a fast break for his first of four goals in the half. The two teams traded goals, and the Swarm ended the first quarter up 4-1.
Miles got in on the action to widen the Swarm’s lead to three goals. Connor Kearnan responded on the crease, and Lyle scored up close and personal. Miles had a goal waived afterwards, but he made up for it with a farside top cheddar laser to widen the lead to four goals.
Drew Belgrave scored off a faceoff, but it seemed for every one goal the Seals scored, the Swarm responded with two more. Adam Wiedemann capped the Swarm’s first half scoring with a transition goal, and Casey Jackson did the same for the Seals. At halftime, the Swarm were up 10-6.
The third quarter was a more even affair as the two teams both scored two goals. The Swarm, after allowing a power play goal against in the first quarter, killed off the lone penalty in the third. Seals captain Brodie Merrill netted a transition goal, Shayne and Miles responded to widen the Swarm’s lead to five goals, and Dawson’s hat trick cut the Swarm’s lead back down to four, 12-8.
In a fourth quarter where they found themselves man-down three times, the Swarm responded by killing every penalty and scoring three shorthanded goals, starting with Alex Crepinsek’s first goal of the season. Cattoni followed with a shorthanded goal of his own, kicking off his natural hat trick.
“It was good,” Cattoni said about his performance. “Apparently that’s the only way I get my hat tricks is naturally. My two this year, that’s how I got them, but I’ll take it. Obviously, it’s a little bit of a monkey off my back, which is nice and gives me a little big of confidence going forward and playing Calgary next week.”
By the time Cattoni capped his hat trick with a power play goal, Shayne netted his own shorthanded marker – his second game in a row with a such a goal.
Turner Evans managed to cut into the Swarm’s 17-8 lead with catch-and-release goal, and Casey’s second of the night became the final point in the contest. The Swarm once again ran out the clock with their lead, winning their fifth-straight game by a score of 17-10.
Eight different Swarm players found the back of the net, and the team collectively posted a 23.61 S%. Mike Poulin earned the win after making 38 saves in 57:06 min., finishing his 11th win of the season with a 9.46 GAA and an .809 SV%.
“I thought as a group, we really played well,” Comeau said. “Once again, Mike Poulin was really good out the back door, but our special teams were really good. When we only give up one power play goal on five or six chances, that’s a really big, big night, especially against a team that has a lot of weapons to score.”
Dawson led the Seals in scoring with his six points (3G, 3A). Garrett Billings was next in points with four, all assists. Frank Scigliano earned the loss before being chased from net by his former Roughnecks teammate Cattoni’s shorthanded goal. His 35 saves in 50:11 min. came out to a 16.74 GAA and a .714 SV%.
The Swarm play their final road game of the 2018-19 season in Scotiabank Saddledome on Friday, April 12. They face the Calgary Roughnecks (7-8) at 9:30 p.m. ET.
“We’re playing well, but this week’s this week; next week’s next week,” Comeau said. “We have to refocus and watch some Calgary video, get a game plan together for them. For them, it’s kind of a playoff-type atmosphere for them, too. They’re trying to improve their seed and catch teams, so I think we’ll have the same kind of playoff-type intensity. It’s a building that’s tough to play in, big crowds, and we’re looking forward to the challenge.”
“I’m excited to go back to Calgary…” Cattoni said about playing against the team that drafted him. “Obviously something to prove, going back to the team that traded me away, and hopefully we come out with a good team win. That’s all I’m worried about.”
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 home on Saturday, April 20 to take on the Philadelphia Wings and host Fan Appreciation Night presented by Mitsubishi Electric Trane HVAC. Faceoff is set for 7:05 p.m. ET. Early arriving fans can receive a Swarm Team Poster courtesy of Mitsubishi Electric Trane HVAC. Tickets are available by calling 844-4-GASWARM or by visiting GeorgiaSwarm.com/FAN.