Sunday afternoon the Toronto Rock and Georgia Swarm faced off for the third time in seven weeks. And for the third time, the Swarm came away with a victory, sweeping the season series 3-0 as they beat the Rock 11-10 in front of 4496 fans at Infinite Energy Arena.
Outscored just 37-30 in their three contests shows how close the Rock have been but also how far they have to go.
Georgia has done an excellent job of owning first quarters against Toronto. Coming out of the gate hot, playing their game and making their opponent make changes on the fly has been the strength of the Swarm all season. We saw this again on Sunday as the Swarm led 4-2. Lyle Thompson was a wrecking ball in the offensive side of the floor as he made room for his offense to set up plays and run picks which allowed him to score back-to-back goals. The Rock scored first and last in the quarter but their sticks were silent in the 14 minutes in between.
Mike Poulin was outstanding in the early minutes of the second as he made an athletic cross-crease save, stretching his stick out to rob a rebound collected by the Rock. With Poulin anchoring down the defense, the offensive was able to go to work again. Halfway through the second quarter, Thompson capitalized yet again as he was able to score his hat trick goal. Thompson’s goal was shorthanded and assisted by Poulin and captain Jordan MacIntosh.
Jordan Hall and Dan Lintner, with his first of five in the game, exchanged goals late in the frame. The Swarm led 6-3 at the half.
Locker room strategy changes led to the Rock dominating the offensive side of the ball in the third. Single goals from Brodie Merrill and Adam Jones and a pair from Lintner helped surge the Rock to 7-6 lead as Nick Rose held down the fort in the defensive end, turning aside four shots from the Swarm in the third.
In familiar Swarm-Rock fashion, the last quarter was a chess match. Both teams went on their runs and traded goals. It was the busiest quarter of the night, with eight goals scored in the frame with the Swarm coming away with the plus, outscoring the Rock 5-3. Merrill caused a turnover during the last possession of the game but the Rock were unable to get a shot as the Swarm wildly fought to regain possession.
This marked one of Thompson’s best games of the year as he came away with five goals and one helper on 12 shots on goal. Swarm goaltender Mike Poulin was stellar through the game as he steered aside 36 of 46 shots.
With playoffs fast approaching, the Rock need to win out the rest of the regular season as they have slid to second last in the east. The Swarm are not in any better shape as they sit one game ahead of the Rock. Both teams are back in action this week as the Rock take on the Knighthawks while the Swarm have a date with the Western division leading Saskatchewan Rush.