Duluth, Georgia – The New England Black Wolves had a chance to clinch a home playoff game Friday night at Infinite Energy Arena, but a desperate Georgia Swarm was too much for the visitors, cruising to a 16-9 victory.
Battling to stay alive for a spot in the playoffs, Georgia scored the first four goals of the game and eventually converted 5-of-6 power play opportunities in the first half alone while also collecting a short-handed goal on the way to an 11-4 halftime lead.
Georgia’s Randy Staats — the leading scorer among rookies in the NLL — had a goal and seven assists in that first half, piling up a career-high eight points before intermission. Shayne Jackson (three goals, three assists), Keil Matisz (three goals, one assist) and Johnny Powless (two goals, two assists) also had big first-half numbers.
The turning point of the game came after the Black Wolves took advantage of some confusion on the Georgia side to pull within 5-3 on a goal by Shawn Evans. The score came while the Swarm were debating whether to ask for a review of a disallowed goal.
Georgia responded with six unanswered goals in a span of four minutes, seven seconds to push the lead to 11-3 with 3:40 left in the first half.
New England never recovered, sliding to 9-6 on the year. Georgia improved to 6-9.
Trailing 11-4 at the half, the Black Wolves received a brief spark when Kyle Buchanan scored 15 seconds into the second half. But with New England applying pressure on a power play, former Black Wolves defender Joel White made a remarkable end-to-end run to score another short-handed goal, and it was 12-5.
New England was still within 12-7 early in the fourth quarter when Georgia closed out the game with four more unanswered goals.
Four different Swarm players — Powless, Jackson, Matisz and Lyle Thompson – finished with three goals and Georgia converted on 6-of-9 power play opportunities.
Evans (two goals, three assists), Kevin Crowley (two goals, two assists) and Buchanan (two goals) led the Black Wolves.
New England will host Georgia next Saturday night at 7 p.m. at Mohegan Sun Arena.