Halifax holds off Georgia for final playoff spot in East

Eduardo Curros – All Lacrosse All The Time Field Correspondent

The Halifax Thunderbirds faced the Georgia Swarm in the final week of the NLL regular season to determine who would clinch the last playoff spot in the East Division. For the Thunderbirds, this was yet another chance to right the ship of inconsistent play that has plagued them for most of the season. Similarly, this is the second consecutive year Georgia have found themselves in a “win or go home” situation. A win for the Swarm would cap off one of the greatest comeback stories in the league’s history (0-7 start to .500 and a playoff berth). Seth Oakes returned to the lineup for Georgia; however, Andrew Kew was unavailable for the second straight game.

Outstanding performances from Chris Boushy (5g, 7a), Clarke Petterson (4g, 1a), Cody Jamieson (2g, 5a), Eric Fannell (2g,1a) and Randy Staats (1g, 6a) led the Halifax Thunderbirds to a decisive 17-11 win over the Georgia Swarm Saturday evening. The win, coupled with Rochester’s loss to Philadelphia, slots Halifax (10-8) as the #3 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. The Swarm finish the season at 8-10.

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Alternating runs pace Halifax to slim first half lead

Georgia opened up the scoring with three consecutive goals, courtesy of Bryan Cole (1g, 1a) and a pair from Brendan Bomberry (2g, 1a). Halifax responded with four consecutive goals from Petterson, Fannell, Ryan Benesch (1g, 3a) and Wake:Riat BowHunter. The opening frame ended with Halifax leading 4-3 and, more importantly, holding the momentum.

Lyle Thompson (2g, 3a) tied the score early in the second quarter, but Halifax quickly broke the tie with a three-goal run. Petterson’s second, a powerplay goal from Jamieson (2g, 5a), and Boushy put Halifax up 7-4. The Swarm answered with two consecutive power play goals from Seth Oakes (2g, 1a) and Thompson. The Thunderbirds held a slim 7-6 lead going into halftime.

Big fourth quarter clinches playoff spot for Halifax

Boushy opened the second half scoring, with his second goal extending the Halifax lead to two. But the lead was short-lived, as goals from Zach Miller (1g, 6a), TJ Comizio (1g, 2a) and Jordan Macintosh (1g, 1a) put Georgia back on top 9-8. A tally from David Brock and Jamieson’s power play goal gave Halifax a 10-9 lead, before Oakes tied it again heading into the fourth quarter. 

They say champions are revealed in fourth quarters, and Halifax was about to come out of a suit faster than Clark Kent. The Thunderbirds would outscore Georgia 7-1 in the final frame. Petterson, Fannell, and Boushy all found the back of the net in the first two minutes of the fourth quarter for a 13-10 lead. Shayne Jackson (1g, 1a) cut the lead to two, but Boushy tacked on his fourth and fifth of the night to make it 15-11. Any hope of a Swarm comeback faded as a goal from Staats and Petterson’s fourth of the night pushed the lead to six.

Game Notes

Jake Withers had 12 Loose Balls to lead all players, and helped Halifax to 24 of 32 Faceoff wins

Graeme Hossack led all players with 4 Caused Turnovers

Goalies: Warren Hill (Halifax) made 39 saves, while Brett Dobson turned aside 34 for Georgia

Halifax plays the Toronto Rock in a first-round playoff matchup in Hamilton next weekend

Check out this week’s podcast on MONDAY night 5/1/2023 at 9:00 pm (ET)

“Muffler” Mike Kostiuk

“Muffler” Mike Kostiuk was formally introduced to box lacrosse when he attended a New England Black Wolves game on a whim in 2016. Instantly hooked, he has since become an avid follower of the National Lacrosse League. Following the postponement of the 2019-2020 NLL season, he was offered the chance to share his wealth of statistical knowledge and unique insights with the lacrosse community at large. He cheerfully accepted, and currently serves as Edge of Philly’s correspondent for both the Albany FireWolves and New York Riptide.