It started off so promising.
The Rock and Swarm played each other twice this season. Each team was 1-1 and both games went to OT, so we knew the teams were pretty evenly matched. So when the Rock didn’t allow a goal to the strongest offense in the league until six minutes into the second quarter, it seemed like the Rock’s ability to handle the Swarm offense was going to continue. They only scored one goal themselves in the first quarter, but when they took a 4-1 lead in the second quarter, it still looked pretty good. And then the wheels kind of slowly fell off.
Georgia scored the next five goals over sixteen minutes, grabbing the lead they’d never give up. From the time they took that 4-1 lead It was over 22 minutes before the next Rock goal, a Kasey Beirnes laser from much further out than where he normally picks up his goals. The fourth quarter was mostly Georgia again as they picked up five more, two on empty nets. The best offensive team in the league won their first playoff game of the year mostly with great defense.
I was going to list this under “not awesome”, but it got long enough to warrant its own section. Some of the Toronto fans at this game were an embarrassment to their city. There were two goal challenges that didn’t go the Rock’s way. One was a goal that probably trickled over the goal line but was called no goal. The replay showed that at least part of the ball was over the line but it was not possible to see if the ball entirely crossed the line, so the call on the floor had to stand since there was no evidence to overturn it. The other was a Georgia goal called back because of a crease violation. The Swarm challenged, and the replay showed that the shooter’s foot was outside the crease when he jumped and the ball went in before he landed so the no-goal call was reversed. Another call against the Rock but again it was the right call.
Fans booed the first time and lost their minds the second. I saw a lot of fans standing up and yelling at the refs and I really thought it was going to get ugly. Having the PA guy play “Raise a Little Hell” at that point was probably not wise. A couple of the white rally towels they were giving out were thrown onto the playing floor after each of these calls but luckily it didn’t go beyond that.
Near the end of the 4th, a Swarm player went down with a leg cramp and the trainer was out with him for a few minutes before he limped off the floor. Fans booed him as well, though the Swarm were up by 3 or 4 with a couple of minutes left – there would be no reason for him to fake an injury.
Another towel was thrown later though I don’t remember why; I think it was after one of the last Swarm goals. We were lucky the refs didn’t give the Rock a bench minor penalty, which they could have done under rule 73.2. I was surprised that the PA guy didn’t give the crowd a warning not to throw stuff onto the floor. I didn’t see any security guards in the crowd but I really hope the idiots who threw towels were found and tossed out. Come on people, we’re better than that.
- The Swarm defense. They were just stifling, preventing the Rock from getting inside or getting good looks from anywhere. Poulin wasn’t outstanding but was good enough, and did make some truly great stops in the fourth quarter.
- Brandon Miller. Got a little shaky in the fourth quarter but was almost untouchable in the first half.
- The Rock defense also had a great game, though clearly not quite as good as the Swarm defense. Lyle Thompson and Kiel Matisz were kept to 0 goals and 4 assists combined, and Miles Thompson had a single goal and no assists.
- Jordan Hall and Joel White were the first and second stars of the game, and well deserved. Not just because they scored a bunch of points (Hall had 4 and White had 5) but because they were all over the floor bustin’ their butts all night.
- Brett Hickey was on the bench for at least the last 10 minutes, if not longer. I didn’t see the play, but my friend Steve noticed him come off from a shift holding his arm or shoulder but then went out for another shift. He came off of that one the same way and never hit the floor again. I hope we don’t have a repeat of 2015 where he missed the last playoff game of the year (in that case, game 2 of the finals) because of an injury.
- Bradley Kri clearly wanted to fight Jerome Thompson at the end of the game. The two were separated before any serious blows were struck, but both helmets were off. No penalties were handed out but that could be reviewed during the week. Starting a fight after the final whistle could get you a game suspension so let’s hope Kri’s meltdown doesn’t have that aftereffect.
- Second-lowest attendance ever, though 1000 higher than last week. Let’s spin that around and say “Attendance is up at the ACC for the last one game in a row!”
Other game notes
- The last time the Swarm were in town for a playoff game, I was late to the game (almost halftime) because of terrible traffic. This time: same. I was lucky because I got off the Gardiner before the traffic got really bad, drove to Mimico GO station, and only had to wait 10 minutes for the train. We ended up missing less than 5 minutes of play. According to the signs on the highway, it would have taken us >45 minutes to get there (from Mimico) if we’d continued driving, so we’d have missed all of the first quarter and some of the second.