Jan 7

Swarm set for their Georgia debut Saturday


By: Paul Thomas

Published: Thursday, January 7, 2016

After announcing their relocation to Duluth last summer, the National Lacrosse League’s Georgia Swarm will finally make their Infinite Energy Center debut on Saturday at 7:05 p.m. against the Toronto Rock.

The team expects between 8-10,000 fans for its first home game after playing in Minnesota the last 11 seasons.

“We’re proud to be here in Gwinnett County, and it’s our mission to bring great entertainment to the community and a competitive team to this state,” Swarm Co-Owner and President Andy Arlotta said. “Our organization has worked hard over the past four months, and we’re excited to launch our inaugural season at Infinite Energy Arena this Saturday.”

The Swarm dropped their season opener 16-15 on New Year’s Day at the Colorado Mammoth and Saturday will be the season opener for the Rock.Despite the loss, Swarm head coach Ed Comeau was pleased with the effort his young team put forth against Colorado. Georgia out-shot Colorado 57-44, but couldn’t come up with enough defensive stops. The highlight for the team was the performance of the team’s first-round draft picks.

All four scored in the NLL debuts, including hat tricks from Randy Staats and Lyle Thompson. Jesse Kind and Chad Tutton each scored one goal. Staats was named one of the three stars of the game as he also had four assists to finish with seven points. Veteran Johnny Powless added six points (two goals, four assists) and captain Jordan MacIntosh had four (two goals, two assists).

“For the most part we were pretty excited,” Comeau said. “We had four rookies in the lineup that night and all four rookies scored their first NLL goals. So that’s a pretty rare occurrence. We were real happy as a group for those guys to be able to come in the league and have an impact in their first game. That was great and we scored a lot of goals. We were happy with the amount of offense we generated, but certainly concerned about trying to reduce the number of goals against. Usually in this league if you can put up 15 goals in a night you’ve got a pretty good chance of winning a game.

“Ultimately we gave up one more than the 15 we did (score). We’ve got to take care of a few things as a group, both playing a little better defensively, a couple more timely saves and certainly offensively we needed to get off the floor a little more effectively. We allowed them to score a few goals in transition we think we could have prevented. Disappointed with the outcome, but there were a lot of positives and we really want to build on that this weekend down in Gwinnett.”

Last season Toronto went 14-4 in the regular season before falling to the Edmonton Rush (now the Saskatchewan Rush) in the championship cup.

The Rock return many of the key cogs from last year’s team and will again be a threat to win the East Division. Georgia did beat Toronto 17-12 in a December preseason game.

“Toronto’s been a team that’s had a lot of success for a lot of years in this league,” Comeau said. “We know they have good goal tending and they’ve got a lot of veteran guys with a lot of experience, who have played a lot of games in this league. We know that we’re going to have to minimize our mistakes. We played them in the preseason and we want to try to play an uptempo game and hopefully be able to use some of our athleticism to create some opportunities.”


What: Georgia Swarm vs. Toronto Rock

When: 7:05 p.m., Saturday

Where: Infinite Energy Center

TV: Streamed live on FOX Sports GO