UNCASVILLE, Conn. – The National Lacrosse League saved its best for last in Week 9 with a back-and-forth game between the Georgia Swarm and New England Black Wolves.
Miles Thompson called game with his second goal of the night in overtime, putting the Swarm up 11-10 and getting his team back in the win column.
The Swarm (3-3) also handed the East Division rival Black Wolves (4-1) their first loss of the season and snapped their own three-game losing streak in dramatic fashion.
“A little bit of relief and a little bit of feeling like we played a game that felt more like us,” captain Jordan MacIntosh said about the feeling post-win. “I think the last couple of weeks we’ve had spurts, but we haven’t had a full 60, 70 minutes.”
Georgia’s defense was impressive in the first half of the game. They only allowed four goals against, and none of the Black Wolves’ goals in the first two quarters were at even strength. Goaltender Mike Poulin made 20 saves for a first-half .833 save percentage.
On the offensive side of things, five Swarm goals were recorded, none from the same player. Shayne Jackson tied things up at 1 goal apiece early before Lyle Thompson netted his first of the night. As the Swarm and Black Wolves traded blows, Randy Staats had the final say in the first 30 minutes with his first goal of the night. Both teams went to their respective locker rooms, with the Swarm up 5-4.
The third quarter saw the tides reverse to the Black Wolves’ favor. Reilly O’Connor evened things up 19 seconds into the half, Lyle’s second gave the Swarm the lead again, then Jordan Durston’s lone goal of the game tied things up again.
Callum Crawford’s second goal of the game gave the Black Wolves their first lead since the first goal. The home team piled on from there, outscoring the Swarm 5-2 in the third quarter. As the buzzer sounded, the Black Wolves had the lead, 9-7.
“’Let’s just stick with it,’” was the message to the players from Swarm head coach Ed Comeau after the third quarter reversal. “Body language, heads up, be positive – those are things we always talk about. For our guys, we knew we weren’t out of it and that we were going to keep battling. I don’t think there are any magic words or anything else. It’s just the guys continuing to stick with what we know could make us successful, and we did it.”
A power play goal from rookie Andrew Kew widened New England’s lead, but it was to be their last goal of the night. A three-goal run led by Staats and capped by Jackson’s hat trick tied the teams at 10 goals each. The fourth quarter ended, and the Swarm headed to overtime for a consecutive game.
The physicality reached another level, as both teams were desperate for the win. Nearing four minutes into overtime, Zed Williams rocketed off a shot that went just north of the goal and ricocheted off the glass. Miles was in the right place at the right time, just like he was earlier when he scored his first goal.
Miles corralled the rebound, set his feet under him, leaned to the right, and delivered a farside goal that gave the Swarm their first win of the new year and brought them back to .500.
“We set ourselves to a new level, where we need to play at,” Miles said. “I feel like we played pretty well offensively, defensively – especially offensively, we shared the ball really well. We set a precedent, and we’ve got to match that in every game from here on out.”
Jackson continued his incredible season. The 29-year-old has recorded a hat trick in every game this season, and he led the Swarm with seven points (3G, 4A).
“Best player on our team, not even close right now,” MacIntosh said about the assistant captain. “If you look at Shayne’s career, he has gotten better every single season. The biggest thing I see from him and if you ever watch Shayne play, he would do anything to win. He’s really bashed around the whole game, but he still scraps his way in and gets to the front of the net. We’re kind of riding on his coattails right now; he’s been our best guy.”
After Jackson was Miles with five points (2G, 3A). Jordan Hall had four points (1G, 3A).
Poulin made 37 saves across 63:53 min. of action. He finished the night with a 9.39 goals-against average and .787 save percentage.
The Black Wolves were led by Crawford with five points (2G, 3A), followed by Kew with four (2G, 2A). Goaltender Doug Jamieson made 44 saves, good for a 10.33 goals-against average and .800 save percentage.
The Swarm cap their three-game road trip against their final East Division rival, the Philadelphia Wings at Wells Fargo Center on Friday, Jan. 31. Face-off is set for 7:30 p.m.
Both teams met back in December, and the Swarm held the Wings to single digits in their 12-6 win. Since then, the Wings have become one of the top teams in the NLL with a 5-2 record.
“I’m sure they’re not happy (about the first game in the season series) – their first game was against us, and we had already played a game, so maybe they weren’t at game speed,” Comeau previewed. “They’re playing really well. Their goaltending’s been good, their offense, defense, transition – they’re playing really well.
“For us, it’s a short week, so it’s really about taking care of any bumps and bruises. Watch a little film – maybe not look so much at this game, but really focus ahead at the next game with a short turnaround.”