2023-2024 Outlook: Albany FireWolves

2022-2023 Record: 3-15, 8th place East Division; missed the playoffs

New Faces: Alex Simmons, Will Johansen, Tye Kurtz, Sam Firth, Jordi Jones-Smith, Andrew Kidd, Jeff Trainor

Key Losses: John LaFontaine, Connor Kelly, Hiana Thompson, Brent Mitchell, Thomas Vaesen

The first month and a half of last season for the Albany FireWolves showed promise, in spite of a major rebuild on the offensive end. They won their season opener on the road against the eventual Cup champion Buffalo Bandits. After dropping a close game to Rochester, they then spilt two games with Halifax. Impressively, the win against the Thunderbirds also came on the road, and after losing top faceoff specialist Joe Nardella to a season-ending injury. At 2-2, with both wins coming on the road in notoriously difficult barns, there was no reason to think that the FireWolves wouldn’t be in the playoff mix yet again.

However, the season went completely off the rails for Albany, as they went 1-13 the rest of the way to finish with the worst record in the league. While the consolation to such a season was the #1 draft pick and the acquisition of an expected generational talent in Dyson Williams, the FireWolves will have to wait another year for his services as Williams completes his collegiate career at Duke University. But that doesn’t mean Albany has to wait to improve – after all, when you fall so far, the only way to go is up.

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Offense

Albany head coach and GM Glenn Clark continues to stock the offense with young talent after the departures of several veterans over the last two years, including leading scorer Connor Kelly (Draft day trade with Colorado). On the right side, 2022 draft picks Alex Simmons and Tye Kurtz will compete for roster spots, along with incumbents Tanner Thomson, John Piatelli, and Jake Fox (acquired mid-season from Panther City). Additionally, Charlie Kitchen and Travis Longboat, who missed most and all of last season (respectively) due to injuries, should be fully healthy and ready to enter training camp.

Competition on the left side will also be wide open, with Kieran McArdle and Ethan Walker joined by a pair of mid-season acquisitions in Marshall Powless (Saskatchewan) and Jackson Reid (Panther City). Sam Firth comes over from Las Vegas, and free agent signings Tanner Buck (previously with Georgia) and Jacob Gasperetti will also be vying for a spot on the roster.

Defense

On the back end, Doug Jamieson will continue to be the starting netminder, with Justin Geddie and 2023 draftee Andrew Kidd competing for the backup spot. Captain Brett Manney will anchor a solid core of veterans, including Colton Watkinson, Nick Chaykowsky, Jackson Nishimura, and Leo Stouros. A second core of younger players, featuring Ty Logan, Mike Byrne, Aaron Forster, 2021 top draft pick Patrick Kaschalk, and Jordi Jones-Smith (recently acquired from New York) will complement the veterans. Other draft picks and free agent signings expected to compete for spots include Will Johansen, Matt Duncan, Jonah Boehm, Keaton Thomson (Tanner’s younger brother), PLL Cannons defender Jeff Trainor, and 2023 draftees Nicholas Volkov and Zach Young. The return of Nardella to the X will help reduce floor time for this defensive unit, as the Albany offense will see more possessions than they did last season in his absence.

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“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 covers NLL, PLL, WLA, and Major Series Lacrosse for the network.

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