NLL: 16-11 Swarm win secures first place in NLL’s east division

The Georgia Swarm celebrate their 16-11 win over the New England Black Wolves on April 29, 2018. The Swarm captured their second-straight east division title. (Photo credit: New England Black Wolves)

Swarm win the east, receive first round bye – New England will visit Rochester in round one matchup

Sunday night the New England Black Wolves (9-9) fell to the Georgia Swarm (11-7) 16-11 at the Mohegan Sun Arena. Georgia’s victory gives them a first round bye in this year’s playoffs, while the Black Wolves will be on the road for the first round, visiting Rochester Friday night. They defeated Rochester in all three meetings during the regular season, the latest on April 21st by a score of 11-6.

New England went into the game Sunday already having clinched a playoff berth after the Toronto Rock fell to the Colorado Mammoth on Saturday night. So the game against Georgia was for first place and a first round bye.

Georgia took a 5-0 lead in the first quarter, scoring shorthanded twice. Black Wolves’ captain Kyle Buchanan scored on the power play with less than five minutes to go in the frame to get New England on the board.

The second quarter was much of the same but this time it was New England scoring six times, including twice on the power play. The second power play goal of the quarter was Kevin Crowley’s 50th goal of the season, so he received a loud roar from the crowd. Buchanan added two more goals in the quarter. At halftime the score was 7-7.

The Swarm came out buzzing in the third, outscoring the Black Wolves 5-1. Georgia went up 9-7 before  Buchanan got New England back within within a goal. But the Swarm scored the final three goals of the quarter, the last one by Jordan Hall with three seconds remaining. Lyle Thompson scored on a penalty shot during the third quarter.

Stephan LeBlanc started the scoring for New England in the fourth as they tried to get some momentum, but the Swarm had other plans. Kiel Matisz, with two, and Shayne Jackson scored three times in 1:29 to increase the lead to six for the Swarm at 15-9. New England scored two of the final three goals of the game.

New England started the season 4-1 before hitting a major bump in the road. The Black Wolves won only two of their next nine games, but were still in the playoff race as the rest of the east couldn’t capitalize on chances to separate from the pack.

New England went to win three in a row, under pressure, as a loss in any of the games could have sealed their fate.

Lyle Thompson (4G/4A), Randy Staats (2G/5A) and Miles Thompson (2G/3A) led the Swarm attack. Shayne Jackson, Kiel Matisz and Jordan Hall each scored a pair of goals.

Kyle Buchanan (4G/2A), Stephan LeBlanc (2G/5A) led the Black Wolves attack. Colton Watkinson and Kevin Crowley would also score twice. Crowley finished the regular season with a career high 51 goals.