Week 6 of the NLL kicked off at MVP Arena in Albany, as the FireWolves hosted the Halifax Thunderbirds. The Thunderbirds came into the game having suffered their first loss of the year in an overtime thriller last week. Meanwhile, Albany sat atop the NLL standings at 4-0, having already surpassed their win total from last year. The FireWolves fought back from a two-goal deficit in the fourth quarter to win 12-10, remaining undefeated at 5-0.

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Albany takes halftime lead with big second quarter

Halifax jumped out a 2-0 lead, with Dawson Theede (2g, 2a; 1:08) and Austin Shanks (3g, 1a; 5:00) finding the net against FireWolves goaltender Doug Jamieson. Ethan Walker (1g, 3a) got one back for Albany 50 seconds later. Graeme Hossack restored the Halifax lead to two with an unassisted goal at 12:05, but Nathan Grenon (1g, 1a) would strike 26 seconds after Hossack’s goal to make it 3-2 after one quarter of play.

Travis Longboat (2g, 3a) opened the second quarter scoring, tying the game at 1:44. Shanks (7:45) put Halifax up again before Albany went on a four-goal run. Patrick Kaschalk (2g; 9:10) took a pass from Doug Jamieson in transition and tied the score at 4-4. Five seconds later, Joe Nardella buried one to put Albany up 5-4. Then Kaschalk’s second (10:11) and Longboat’s second (12:40) gave the FireWolves a 7-4 lead. Ryan Benesch (2g, 2a; 14:01) answered for Halifax to make it a 7-5 game at halftime.

Albany cements top spot in the NLL

Halifax outscored Albany 3-1 in the third quarter to keep the game close. Clarke Petterson (1g, 3a; 4:19) scored a power play goal, followed by Benesch (5:28) netting his second to tie the game, 7-7. Sam Firth (2g; 13:16) put Albany up 8-7, but Theede (14:05) scored his second to equalize the game at 8-8 going into the final quarter.

The Thunderbirds looked poised to run away with the win after Randy Staats (1g, 4a; 0:16) and a hat-trick goal from Shanks (0:34) made it 10-8. However, Alex Simmons, already a three-time Rookie of the Week winner, came to life after being quiet most of the game. Simmons (2g, 3a) went back-to-back (3:08 power play; 5:28) to level the score at 10-10. Firth (8:43) followed with his second to give Albany the lead for good, and Nick Chaykowsky added an insurance goal at 14:46, for which Halifax had no answer.

Other Stats of Note

Doug Jamieson (ALB): 44 saves; Warren Hill (HFX): 35 saves

Power Play: HFX 1 of 3; ALB 1 of 7

HFX: 17 of 26 on faceoffs

Jake Withers (HFX): 13 Loose Balls (led all players)

Ryan Terefenko (HFX): 4 Caused Turnovers (led all players)

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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 currently serves as Edge of Philly’s correspondent for both the Albany FireWolves and New York Riptide.