May 13, 2017 - National Lacrosse League (NLL) - Georgia Swarm
GEORGIA SWARM COLLECTS A GUTSY ROAD WIN IN GAME 1 OF THE EAST DIVISION FINALS
Two teams now travel to The Hive to conclude the East Division Finals next Saturday
(TORONTO) - The Georgia Swarm (14-5) won its first playoff game since moving to Georgia with an 11-8 victory against the Toronto Rock (10-10) on Saturday, May 13, 2017 at Air Canada Centre. With the win, Georgia now leads in the series and can secure its first-ever Champions Cup appearance in franchise history with a win next week. The two teams will now fly back to Harrah's Cherokee Casino Field at Infinite Energy Arena on Saturday, May 20 to conclude the East Division Finals.
Game 2 is set for 7:05 p.m ET, and the game will be streamed live on Twitter to a global audience. The game is presented by Axion Corporation. If the series is tied 1-1 after the two games, a 10-minute mini-game (Game 3) will take place after Game 2 at Infinite Energy Arena.
A defensive clinic, both Georgia's Mike Poulin and Toronto's Brandon Miller put on a show Saturday evening. Georgia flipped the script by scoring most of its goals on transitions while holding Toronto to only eight goals in the first game of the East Division Finals. This is Georgia's first playoff win since 2013, also against Toronto.
"Toronto's got a lot of guys that can run the floor," head coach Ed Comeau said. "We've got guys that can do it, too. We pushed the ball hard in transition. Those opportunities usually start with a save, turnover, or loose ball, and we came up out of those situations running and made some great decisions in transition.
Georgia's league-best offense was held quite during the first 15 minutes, shutout for the first time all season. Georgia would fall behind 4-1, but would go on a five-goal run to go on a 6-4 lead it would not relinquish on the way to its first playoff victory in 2014.
"We were getting good shots, to be honest with you," Joel White said. "Brandon Miller is an unbelievable goaltender, and he was making some good stops. We were spreading a little wide, but at the end of the day, for us, we know how our offense is. We know that they're going to continue to do the right things and move the ball around and get shots, and that's exactly what they did. Our defense played well, and obviously Poulie backed us throughout the whole game and especially so in the second half. When we're in those types of situations, we hope that our defense can do what our offense has done for us all season, and that's bail us out. We were able to keep them going a couple, and our offense is always doing what they do."
Toronto's Dan Lintner was the only player to score in the first quarter and put his Rock up 1-0. Damon Edwards would continue things in Toronto's favor in the second quarter with a goal within 14 seconds, followed by Stephan Leblanc nearly two and a half minutes later. Georgia finally got on the board courtesy of a transition goal from assistant captain Shayne Jackson, Georgia still down 3-1. Brett Hickey would score for the final time in the first half for Toronto to put the Rock up by three, but Jordan Hall would score for the Swarm to bring it within two as the final buzzer rang, beginning a five-goal run for the Swarm.
The third quarter was all Georgia. White started things off with an unassisted goal past Miller. A few minutes later, team captain Jordan MacIntosh made a good block on a pass before scooping it up and passing it to White. White would forward it to Hall who in turn forwarded it to Chad Tutton. Tutton made it bounce under Miller to tie things up. Jackson would later pass to Hall for his second goal of the night to finally give Georgia a lead it would not relinquish for the rest of the game.
"Toronto likes to push the ball, and we wanted to match their intensity," White said about his momentum-shifting goal. "That particular play, you see a little bit of an opening and see if you can get ahead of them, see what happens. We just wanted to match that intensity, make sure that we're pushing the ball, just getting it up the floor and continuing to get it to our offense, that's what we kept saying that our offense was going to catch fire and what we can do to help on the back end is exactly what we want to do."
Toronto would eventually score off of a power play goal from Kasey Beirnes, but not before Jackson made a needle-threading goal. When the third quarter buzzer rang, Georgia was up 6-5.
Kieran McArdle would make a shot in the fourth quarter that dribble in, but some confusion on the referees' end as to whether it was a goal or not caused it to be reviewed. They eventually determined it a no-goal. Georgia went back to scoring on transition as White passed to Randy Staats hot off the bench to put Georgia up 7-5. Lintner would retaliate a minute and a half later to put it back within one.
Miles Thompson and Hall would score twice more to widen the lead, Hall's coming after a coaches' challenge from Comeau. The Rock felt its chances at a win slipping and continually pulled Miller to go with the extra attacker. And while NLL Rookie of the Year candidate Tom Schreiber and Beirnes managed to score with the extra attacker, Georgia also netted two empty netters around the Toronto goals before running the clock out to emerge with its first playoff win since moving to Georgia, an 11-8 victory on the road.
"Their goaltending was really good," Comeau said. "We had a couple power plays and some couple good looks, and Miller made great saves on them. Their defense played good, and we were outshooting them. We hoped that if we stuck with it, we'd be able to find the back of the net."
Transition player White led the Swarm in scoring with his five points (2G, 3A). Hall and Jackson would follow up with four points each (3G, 1A for White and 2G, 2A for Jackson). Staats scored a goal and recorded three assists, and MVP candidate Lyle Thompson recorded three assists.
Poulin only allowed eight goals in 60 min. of play, making 47 saves which were highlighted by 24 saves in the second and fourth quarter. His work between the pipes, complemented by the stalwart defense, prevented Toronto from scoring for 22:35 min. Tonight also marked the first night in history that three siblings have played in a NLL Playoff Game for the same team. Lyle, Miles, and Jerome Thompson all took the floor for Georgia and helped the team on its way to victory.
"The defense starts with good goaltending, and good goaltending starts with defense," Comeau said. "I think that both our goaltending and defense were full credit tonight and did a great job. Now we have the tough task of after a week going back and doing it again."
The Georgia Swarm Pro Lacrosse Team is proud to partner with 680 The Fan to host #10KDay on Saturday, May 20 during Game 2 of the NLL East Division Finals against the Toronto Rock. Faceoff is set for 7:05 p.m. from Harrah's Cherokee Casino Field at Infinite Energy Arena; all parking is free. The first playoff game to be played at The Hive, fans can purchase lower level seats for as low as $20 by calling 844-4-GASWARM or by visiting GeorgiaSwarm.com/Playoff .
Play of the game:
The tide was already turned before it, but White's first goal of the game was incredible. Unassisted, White ended up with the ball and outstripped Leblanc with a quickness. In transition, he managed to beat Miller at goal and put Georgia within one.
Close second was Poulin's incredible save 10:30 into the third quarter. Toronto's Sandy Chapman was streaking like a madman in transition and leapt as he made a shot. Poulin made a ludicrous split to block any attempts low while simultaneously shooting his stick up high like a rock star punching the air to block the shot from Chapman and retain Georgia's two-goal lead, one of many incredible saves by Poulin on Saturday to help the Swarm attain its first playoff win since moving to Georgia.
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Images from this story
Georgia Swarm Collects a Gutsy Road Win in Game 1 of the East Division Finals