NLL Preview: Georgia Swarm

Mike Poulin of the Georgia Swarm. (Photo credit: Kyle Hess)

The Georgia Swarm are coming into the 2019 season after a 2018 season where they went 11-7 and finished first in a wild Eastern Division. The Swarm would ultimately fall in the Eastern finals to the Rochester Knighthawks and fail to repeat as NLL Champions after claiming the title in 2017. The Swarm look to regain that glory this season as they bring a lot of pieces back to the puzzle and add some new talent as well.

 

Offseason recap

A hectic offseason for the league meant that its teams were busy, too. The Swarm signed a few free agents, made two trades and of course made a splash at the draft.

Draft night is when Georgia made their biggest move of the offseason, sending the team’s third leading scorer, Jesse King, and the 23rdoverall pick to Calgary in exchange for the Roughneck’s fourth leading scorer Holden Cattoni and the number seven overall pick. This trade meant that Georgia had five picks in the first two rounds of the draft.

The 10 players that the Swarm drafted were:

  • forward Brendan Bomberry out of Syracuse and the Six Nations Chiefs
  • defenseman Adam Wiedemann from Belmont Abbey and the Brampton Excelsiors
  • defenseman Joel Tinney from Johns Hopkins
  • goaltender Steve Orleman out the Brampton Excelsiors Jr. A
  • forward Leroy Halftown from NYIT and the Onondaga Redhawks
  • defenseman Justin Lemcke from the Whitby Warriors
  • transition player Tanner Poole out of Nipissing and New Westminster Jr. A
  • defenseman John Sexton from Notre Dame
  • forward Nolan Apers from Lehigh and the Oakville Titans Sr. B
  • defenseman Sawyer Howell from the Mimico Mountaineers

Georgia released Poole, Howell and Apers. Poole and Howell were released before training camp and Apers was released after the first weekend of training camp.

The Swarm re-signed everyone from last year’s squad that was able to re-sign and picked up a few free agents in defenseman Matt Dunn, who made the active roster, transition player Tyler Ferreira, who made the practice roster, and Bennett Drake, Zach Tompkinson and Braden Wallace who were eventually released.

Georgia’s only trade, other than acquiring Cattoni on draft night, was to send Ethan O’Connor to Buffalo in exchange for two 2019 draft picks. They also lost forwards Kiel Matisz and Jordan Hall to Philadelphia in the expansion draft.

 

Active Roster

#2 Miles Thompson, Offense

#4 Lyle Thompson, Offense

#5 Joel Tinney, Defense

#10 Alex Crepinsek, Defense

#13 Connor Sellars, Defense

#19 Holden Cattoni, Offense

#21 Brendan Bomberry, Defense

#22 Jerome Thompson, Offense

#24 Jordan MacIntosh, Transition

#25 Leo Stouros, Defense

#27 Adam Wiedmann, Defense

#28 Zed Williams, Offense

#29 Kevin Orleman, Goalie

#30 Mike Poulin, Goalie

#31 John Ranagan, Defense

#32 Shayne Jackson, Offense

#33 Matt Dunn, Defense

#44 Chad Tutton, Defense

#45 Jason Noble, Transition

#55 Bryan Cole, Transition

#83 Randy Staats, Offense

 

Practice Squad

#1 Craig Wende, Goalie

#17 Tyler Ferreira, Defense

#34 Steve Orleman, Goalie

#38 LeRoy Halftown, Offense

 

Season Outlook

With the Swarm returning a majority of talent from last year’s squad the season looks pretty bright in Georgia. The Swarm return three of their top five scorers from last season in forwards Lyle Thompson (46G/40A, 86 pts), Shayne Jackson (33G/52A, 85pts) and Randy Staats (30G/39A, 69pts).

Last season Georgia had the third best offense in the league as they put up 588 combined points (226G/362A). That offense was primarily led by Thompson and Jackson as they were the two biggest contributors. Staats and Myles Thompson played important roles as well.

Holden Cattoni of the Calgary Roughnecks. (Photo credit: Cliff McCaig)

It will be interesting to see how Cattoni fits into that offense. Last year in Calgary, he was fourth on the Roughnecks with 76 points (36G/40A). Those numbers are better than King’s last year so it will be interesting to watch how he will work in this new offense in Georgia as he will give them a very good option as a lefty. Transition players Jordan MacIntosh and Bryan Cole also give Georgia solid options on the run again this season. MacIntosh’s production has dropped off the past few seasons but he is a still a reliable player and as captain, is a true leader. He is a transition player that can put up numbers on both offense and defense, and he is also the Swarm’s primary face off man.

Zed Williams is a guy to watch out for this season. The righty transition player saw a lot of time early on in his rookie season due to injuries; however, his minutes were quashed as guys became healthy again. Williams tallied eight points (5G,3A), 41 loose balls and seven caused turnovers in just nine games last season. Williams is a very viable option and can contribute if needed. He is certainly a guy that can do some damage on the floor.

The Swarm have a lot of depth in goal. They brought four goalies into training camp and have kept them all around. They have two solid goalies on the active roster in Mike Poulin and Kevin Orleman, with Craig Wende and Steven Orleman (yes, Kevin’s little brother) named to the practice roster. Poulin will be the starter again this season; last year he had a .773 save percentage with 692 saves and an 11.69 goals against average.

The big pieces in front of Poulin on defense are John Ranagan, Alex Crepinsek and Jason Noble. The veteran Ranagan has been a leader on this Swarm team, especially on the defensive end, as he had seven points (3G/4A), 55 loose balls and 12 caused turnovers (CTO) last season.

Noble and Crepinsek also had good seasons. Crepinsek tallied seven points (2G/5A), 88 loose balls and 10 CTOs while Noble had five assists, 48 loose balls and eight CTOs. The Swarm also add Hopkins grad Joel Tinney who should see some quality minutes and contribute as a rookie.

With the talent that the Swarm bring back they look to be a major contender in the east again this season. The Swarm’s ultimate goal will be to get back to the NLL Finals and win the NLL Cup. Georgia will open the season on Saturday December 15that home against the New England Black Wolves.

Check out Georgia’s full schedule here.

 

 

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