NLL: Oakes, Kew lead the way as Swarm win OT thriller 

Gas South Arena played host to a solid matchup between the Vancouver Warriors and Georgia Swarm on Friday night. Going in, it was the tale of two different clubs as the Swarm were in playoff position and Vancouver was on the outside looking in. As we’ve seen this year, there is a lot of parody in this league, with any team being able to win or pull an “upset” on any given night. Vancouver almost pulled that upset.

Georgia saw themselves up three going into the fourth quarter, but a late rally by Vancouver tied it up and we needed overtime (We love free lax). Andrew Kew buried the winner less than two minutes in, but not without some controversy. Stay tuned for that. Your final from the capital of the South, 12-11 Swarm. As you’ll come to notice, Kew and Seth Oakes (on his birthday), stung the Warriors with nine goals between the two of them.

It took almost nine minutes for the first goal of the game to be scored, and in those nine-ish minutes, transition was fast and furious. Ryan Martel finally drew first blood for Vancouver, but was quickly answered by Kew’s first on the power play. Brad McCulley tallied his first as a Warrior with a snipe from distance to close out the quarter. 2-1 Vancouver after one.

The second was an all-out track meet. The transition somehow got quicker and the scoring picked up immensely. Georgia rattled off three-straight in a span of three minutes to open it up. Goals were by Oakes, twice, and Kew his second power play goal. Vancouver saw those three goals and matched it to regain their one-goal lead. Warrior goals were scored by Adam Charalambides, Owen Grant, and Kevin Crowley. Oakes tied it up with his hat trick, but 39 seconds later Reid Bowering regained the lead for Vancouver. That lead was short lived as Oakes scored his fourth and Zach Miller got his first to give Georgia the 7-6 lead going into halftime.

“We’re on a rough losing streak and that’s the only way to get out of it, is to play hard,” said Oakes at the break. “Last game they gave it to us when we went to Vancouver, so we plan on giving it to them in the second half.”

All things considered with the pace of play and the scoring in bunches, both goaltenders were as stout as could be in the first half. Brett Dobson made 14 saves on 20 shots, and Aaron Bold stopped 20 of 27.

Oakes must have taken his message into the locker room at the half, because “give it to them” is what they did for a good majority of the third quarter. The birthday boy took his own advice as he opened the scoring with his fifth of the night and was followed up by Kew’s third and Shayne Jackson’s first. Those three goals spanned the first ten minutes of game play in the third quarter. So, not only was Georgia adding to their lead, but they were taking Vancouver right out of it. Tyson Kirkness notched his first to cut the deficit for the Warriors at the end of the quarter. 10-7 Swarm after three.

Once again, Vancouver saw the three-straight for Georgia and matched it, this time it was crunch time in the fourth quarter. Scorers were Crowley, his second, and Keegan Bal twice. Just like that, we were tied at 10 with 6:21 to play. The great Lyle Thompson hadn’t been heard from in the goal column up to this point, but of course he had to come through in the late stages with his first to give Georgia the lead back with just over four to play. With 1:40 left, Vancouver set up shop in the Georgia zone. Crowley fired a pass to Charalambides, who threw a head fake and ripped a bullet past Dobson. 11-11 after 60 minutes. To overtime we go.

The overtime period was fast and furious. Both defenses were unbelievably stout and each team possessed the ball twice. On Georgia’s second possession, the shot clock was winding down. Kew received a pass and fired a bullet that beat Bold in the waning seconds of the shot clock. It went to a review, and much to the happiness of the Swarm faithful, the goal stood. Your final from Duluth, 12-11 Georgia.

Players of the game for Georgia were Oakes (5+2), Kew (4+4), and Lyle (1+5). Dobson was stout all night long, making 28 saves on 39 shots. For Vancouver, Bal (2+3), Charalambides (2+2), and Crowley (2+2) led the way. Bold was unreal as well, but presumably would want that one in OT back. He made 39 saves on 51 shots.

“Shot clock was winding down, just kind of got one on net,” said Kew post game. “I think we just did it as a group, it was a great group effort. We’re going to celebrate this one and come back with some momentum.”

Georgia (5-4) snapped a three-game skid with that win. They look to start a winning streak as they hit the road to take on Rochester (3-4) next Saturday at 7pm. Vancouver (2-6) looks to right the ship, as they are going the wrong way in the unified standings. They head back home to take on Saskatchewan (2-4) next Saturday at 10pm.