Albany Sweeps Buffalo, Stays Atop Standings

Eduardo Curros – Pacific Correspondent, All Lacrosse All The Time

(Feature photo courtesy of Sally K. Blacksnake)

It is Week 13 in the NLL, and the playoff picture is starting to take shape. The Buffalo Bandits hosted the revamped Albany FireWolves at Key Bank Arena, looking to exact revenge for a season-opening loss. The FireWolves are tied for first place in the Unified Standings with a record of 7-2. Meanwhile, the reigning champion Bandits are 5-4, but not to be taken lightly. The rookies for Albany continued to shine, as Tye Kurtz recorded a sock trick and Alex Simmons had six points in a 13-10 win. Albany stays tied with Toronto for the league lead at 8-2, and sweeps the season series with Buffalo. The Bandits fall to 5-5, and into a tie for 6th place with a surging Calgary Roughnecks team.  

Phillies London trip

Kurtz, Longboat put Albany up at halftime

Noticeably absent from the Bandits lineup was goaltender Matt Vinc, who was put on Injured Reserve prior to the game. Kyle Buchanan got things started for Buffalo with assists from Josh Byrne and Chris Cloutier at 2:03. Chase Fraser quickly followed up with a goal from Byrne and Cloutier at 3:34, giving Buffalo a 2-0 lead. Albany did not sit back, as Ethan Walker scored with help from Tye Kurtz and Alex Simmons at 4:50. Kurtz then scored power play goals at 6:36 and 7:02, both on assists from Simmons, to give the FireWolves a 3-2 lead. Byrne would get some help from Dhane Smith at 7:51 to tie the game. Ian MacKay would put Buffalo ahead again at 9:17 thanks to a quick pass from Matt Spanger. But Sam Firth tied the game 4-4 with Albany’s third power play goal at 14:19.

Travis Longboat opened the second quarter with a pair of goals. The first was assisted by Jackson Nishimura at 1:04, and the second was yet another power play goal at 4:47, with an assist from Marshall Powless. Byrne got one back at 5:53 with help from Cloutier and Fraser, but Simmons pushed the FireWolves lead to 7-5 at 7:43. Cloutier, from Smith and Nick Weiss, cut the lead to one at 7:16, then the equalizing goal would come from Kyle Buchanan at 14:17. However, Kurtz got his hat trick goal 20 seconds later to give Albany an 8-7 lead at the half.

Albany sweeps season series, remains in first place overall

Kurtz kept on rolling into the second half. He scored his fourth of the night at 12:21 for the only goal of the third quarter. His fifth tally at 1:13 of the fourth quarter gave Albany a 10-7 lead. Nathan Grenon tacked on another at 6:14 with help from Simmons and Walker. Byrne, from Smith and Steve Priolo at 7:31 made it 11-8, before Kurtz scored his sock-trick goal at 9:51. Goals from Cloutier at 12:25 and Tehoka Nanicoke at 12:58 cut the Bandits’ deficit to 12-10. However, FireWolves goalie Doug Jamieson scored an empty net goal at 14:53 for the 13-10 final.

Curros’s Corner

Albany won 25 of 27 faceoffs, and went 4 for 8 on the power play

Buffalo went scoreless on their lone power play opportunity, and racked up 30 minutes in penalties on the night

Devlin Shanahan got the start in net in place of Vinc, making 46 saves in the losing effort

Joe Nardella (Albany) and Dhane Smith (Buffalo) each picked up 14 loose balls; Albany won the loose ball battle 82-56

“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.