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Swarm The 6Ix: Georgia Slides Past Rock, 20-17

The Georgia Swarm (2-2) showcased its offensive firepower in a 20-17 road victory Friday night against the Toronto Rock (0-5) at Air Canada Centre in front of 10,345 fans. Georgia clinched the regular season series versus the Rock in the process (2-0) and returns to action Saturday evening for a 7:30 p.m. showdown against the Rochester Knighthawks (2-1) at The Blue Cross Arena, which can be seen live on the FOX Sports GO app.

After struggling to score at home a few weeks ago against New England in an 11-6 loss, Georgia had no problems finding the back of the net at Air Canada Centre. The Swarm recorded a season-high 20 goals, and posted 12 by halftime, which equaled the amount they scored back on Jan. 9 during a 12-7 home win against Toronto at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Field.

“Both teams capitalized offensively on their chances,” Swarm head coach Ed Comeau said. “Goalies had a tough night, but I don’t think it was an indication of their abilities, the shooters were just really on tonight for both teams. We’re happy to get the win, but we certainly need to tighten some things up defensively and continue to improve on that side of the ball.”

Forwards Shayne Jackson (4G, 6A) and Lyle Thompson (2G, 8A) led the Swarm in scoring as both posted career-highs in points with 10.

“The whole offense played unbelievable,” Jackson said. “It was nice to finally win in Toronto in front of family and friends. It had been awhile.”

Jackson’s fourth goal at the 5:36 mark in the fourth quarter was the game-winner, as he hustled down a missed shot that hit the end board and converted on a diving shot to put the Swarm ahead 18-17. His score came only 18 seconds after forward Randy Staats (3G) notched the game-tying goal; Staats scored on a power play chance that ended a six-goal run by the Rock who had stormed ahead after trailing 16-11 late in the third.

“That was really good composure,” Comeau said in regards to re-gaining the lead. “There’s lots of highs and lows in lacrosse games, and we’ve done a good job this year managing that for the most part. There wasn’t any panic tonight, and we kept sticking to our principles and looking for our opportunities.”

After Georgia retook the lead late in the game, second-year forward Miles Thompson (2G, 2A) then sent a dagger to the Rock’s hopes with an incredible behind-the-back goal that left fans shaking their heads in disbelief.

“I was trying to do a two-man game with Lyle… he wasn’t open so I had no other option than to use my backhand,” Thompson said. “Usually when I have my back to the net and I’m pressing up against the defender, that’s when I like to do that backhand because it gives me more strength by using his body.”

Forwards Johnny Powless (4G, 3A) and Kiel Matisz (1G, 7A) continued their strong play against the Rock, as Powless notched his second-straight game with four goals against Toronto, and Matisz dished out seven assists to give him 13 total in the two-game series. Rookie forward Jesse King posted a career-high six points (2G, 4A) on the left-side, with all of his scoring coming in the first half.

Both teams made goaltender changes in the second quarter, as all four goalies saw action Fridayevening. The first half featured a combined 23 goals, with the Swarm holding a slim 12-11 lead after Powless scored with 1.3 seconds left. Brodie MacDonald picked up the win in 50:17 minutes of action for the Swarm after stopping 29-of-43 shots, while Brandon Miller was credited with the loss in 40:06 minutes of relief for Toronto.

The Rock’s offense was powered by forward Rob Hellyer (3G, 7A), Stephan Leblanc (4G, 3A) and Brett Hickey (3G, 2A).

“I thought we showed a lot of guts getting back into that game,” Rock captain Colin Doyle told TorontoRock.com.  “I thought we were going to get it and our focus was solely on getting this game tonight and it feels bad not getting it.”

Story by GeorgiaSwarm.com. Photo by Graig Abel.