MacDonald stellar for pro lacrosse Swarm

Play as he did in the team’s home opener Saturday, and Vernon’s Brodie MacDonald won’t mind the long commute to Atlanta for work.

Brodie MacDonald of the National Lacrosse League Georgia Swarm.

Brodie MacDonald of the National Lacrosse League Georgia Swarm.

Play as he did in the team’s home opener Saturday, and Vernon’s Brodie MacDonald won’t mind the long commute to Atlanta for work.

MacDonald stopped 35 of 42 shots to lead the Georgia Swarm to a 12-7 National Lacrosse League win over the Toronto Rock in front of 9,087 curious but raucous fans at the first professional box lacrosse game in Georgia at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Field at the Infinite Energy Centre in Duluth, an Atlanta suburb.

The Swarm were making their southern debut after relocating for the 2016 season from Minneapolis.

“Field lacrosse is big in Georgia but the fans are just learning the difference between field and box,” said MacDonald, 26, a five-year NLL veteran acquired by the Minnesota Swarm in 2014 after a trade with the Edmonton Rush (now the Saskatchewan Rush), where the 6-foot-7, 245-pound goalie toiled for three seasons.

“The game was delayed 45 minutes because the arena was packed and people were still trying to get in. The atmosphere was great. It was real loud and the people were very excited.”

Toronto and Georgia traded 2-0 runs to open the contest.

“It looked like it was headed like last week (16-15 loss to the Colorado Mammoth; MacDonald did not play) with a lot of goals early,” said Swarm head coach Ed Comeau on the team’s website.

“Then, credit to our goaltending and defence. They really made some big saves and some great plays in the second half.”

Toronto netted two of the first three goals to open the second quarter, taking a 6-5 lead, but were held scoreless by MacDonald for more than 40 minutes of play, including stopping all nine shots he faced in the third quarter. In the second half, MacDonald stopped 17 of 18 shots.

“He played awesome,” said Swarm forward Johnny Powless, who led the team with four goals and an assist.

“The defense played awesome and that’s what we needed on the field.”

MacDonald, who works with his brother, Gord, in a furniture-making business in Vernon, leaves the Okanagan Friday mornings to head to Dixie. He either catches flights to Seattle or Edmonton to connect with a direct flight to Atlanta.

He arrives in time for a practice Friday night, a Saturday morning shoot around, then a game on Saturday before returning home Sunday.

“I had a concern about the commute at first but Atlanta has a big airport which handles a lot of traffic,” said MacDonald. “I still enjoy this lacrosse life.”

Georgia wraps up its brief two-game homestand Sunday against the New England Black Wolves.