ROCHESTER, N.Y. – The Georgia Swarm made a statement with a 14-4 victory against the expansion Rochester Knighthawks in the teams' National Lacrosse League season opener at Blue Cross Arena.
Franchise history was made for both clubs, as the Knighthawks started their history with a loss, and the Swarm recorded a new record for fewest goals against by an opposing club.
While seven different Swarm players found the back of the net Saturday night, half of the Swarm’s 14 goals came at the hands of the Thompson duo — Lyle and Miles Thompson. Assistant captain Shayne Jackson also had a hat trick.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Swarm defense played phenomenal in front of goaltender Mike Poulin, helping him hold the Knighthawks offense to just two goals until he was subbed out early in the fourth quarter.
“They did a fantastic job,” Poulin said about the Swarm defense. “They made my job a lot easier tonight. They soaked shots, they dictated the pace of play, they put them (the Knighthawks) into situations that made them uncomfortable.”
The Swarm dictated the pace early, opening the game’s scoring with a pair of goals from Miles and Jordan Hall’s lone goal of the night. Dan Lintner made Knighthawks history by scoring the first goal for the expansion franchise, a power play goal, but it would be the lone tally for the home team in the first half.
Meanwhile, the Swarm continued to pour on the offense, adding seven more goals to their first half total. The defense continually soaked shots and disrupted passes.
“Getting in shooting lanes is something we really talked about a lot in training camp and really limiting not only the quantity of shots but the quality of shots,” Swarm head coach Ed Comeau said. “If we’re in shooting lanes, we’re going to soak some shots, and our guys did a great job of that. Credit to those guys – it’s not easy to stand out there and get hit by a ball without goalie pads on, but they made those sacrifices, and we got the win.”
That defensive excellence continued well into the third quarter. Georgia continued to control the night’s narrative, tagging two more goals onto their total before Shawn Evans scored another power play goal for the Knighthawks with just a second left in the quarter.
In the fourth quarter, Kevin Orleman took Poulin’s place in net at the first media timeout of the quarter. Rochester put two goals behind him to cap the game, but their effort matched the Swarm’s fourth quarter output. The Swarm played their game like they had all night long, and left Blue Cross Arena with a 14-4 win.
“The game plan that we instilled this past week, we played it to perfection,” Poulin said. “They’re a new team, they’re just gelling, and we gave them no time to get comfortable.”
Lyle’s hat trick came from a penalty shot, and his fourth goal was a shorthanded marker. He tied with Jackson for most points on the team, each with seven.
Poulin’s night ended with 36 saves, a new career-high .947 save percentage, and a microscopic 2.36 goals-against average, also a career-best. Orleman spent 9 minutes, 10 seconds in net and finished with a 13.09 GAA.
For the Knighthawks, Lintner led the team in points with two (1G, 1A). Eight other players recorded a point. Former Swarm goaltender Craig Wende made his first NLL start, recording 44 saves for a .759 save percentage and 14.00 GAA.
The Swarm will enjoy a bye week before returning home for their second game of the season, the home opener at at Infinite Energy Arena against East Division rival Philadelphia on Saturday, Dec. 14. Face-off is set for 7 p.m.