In their final regular season game of the season, the Georgia Swarm dropped a tough game to the Philadelphia Wings 19-14 that cost them first place in the NLL. They will finish as the Eastern Division’s second seed and host the Toronto Rock on Monday, May 6th in the NLL’s first round of playoffs.
The Wings, who finish their season with a 4-14 record, used an early offensive run to help them get ahead in the first quarter and kept the pressure on for three quarters to help them seal the deal. Georgia just couldn’t get enough going for them to come back and take this one.
Georgia was without goalie Mike Poulin who was injured in last week’s game against Calgary. With Poulin out, Kevin Orleman got the start and the Swarm called up Craig Wende to dress as the backup for the game. Not having Poulin in net seemed to have a bigger effect on the defense than many had anticipated, especially early on. Georgia did end up playing both Orleman and Wende.
The game got going very fast with Holden Cattoni getting Georgia on the board first just over a minute into the game. Philadelphia quickly got their offense going as they went on a six-goal run that included back-to-back goals from Vaughn Harris and a shorthanded marker from Kiel Matisz. That run gave Philadelphia the 6-1 lead 10 minutes into the game.
Georgia was able to answer with two goals late in the first to cut Philly’s lead to 6-3 heading into the second. The Swarm stretched their run to four goals with Randy Staats and Jordan MacIntosh scoring early in the second as the Swarm showed some life. But the Wings outscored the Swarm 6-2 the rest of the quarter to take a 12-7 lead into the locker room.
Josh Currier went to the net for a leaping goal 1:42 into the third to get things started for the Wings. Shayne Jackson was quick to answer for the Swarm with a power play goal. Zed Williams scored Georgia’s only other goal of the period which the Wings sandwiched with a pair of goals before and after. Philadelphia led 17-9 heading into the fourth.
While Philadelphia owned most of the game, Georgia actually won the fourth quarter. Philadelphia faltered in many fourth quarters this game and fans probably got nervous when Georgia scored four-straight to cut the lead to 17-13. Unlike other games, Philadelphia was able to answer with two of their own as Kevin Crowley and Steph Charbonneau, on transition, gave them some insurance. Randy Staats scored the final goal of the game as Philadelphia walked away with the win.
In a press release, Georgia Swarm head coach Ed Comeau said, “We gave them some easy goals. Kevin (Orleman) getting the start tonight, we didn’t really support him enough defensively. Offensively, I thought we moved the ball, but we didn’t capitalize on our chances.”
Philadelphia was led by Kiel Matisz who tallied six points (3G/3A) while Matt Rambo also had six points (2G/4A). Trevor Baptiste won 29 of 37 faceoffs and became the all-time leader in single-season faceoff wins in the NLL.
Georgia was led by Bryan Cole who tallied five points (3G/2A) while Randy Staats had four points (3G/1A). Lyle Thompson had five points (1G/4A) as well. Chad Tutton led the way defensively with two caused turnovers and four loose balls.
Gowah Abrams got the start for Philadelphia, and with Doug Buchan scratched, he had no backup available. He made an impressive 41 saves while holding players like Shayne Jackson and Lyle Thompson to one goal each. Kevin Orleman started for Georgia, making 24 saves off of 38 shots on goal while Craig Wende also saw time in net, making 8 saves off of 13 shots on goal.