Written by “Muffler” Mike Kostiuk

Lax Philly – A Division of Edge of Philly Sports Network

The Halifax Thunderbirds traveled to the Capital Region on Saturday to face the Albany FireWolves in the first of two hotly anticipated matchups this season. Following the old adage “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, the FireWolves once again used their strengths to sprint out to an early first half lead, then withstood a Thunderbirds rally to hold on for an 8-6 victory. Albany improves to 3-2 with the win; Halifax suffers their first loss of the season (3-1).

Next Man Up, Again

The Thunderbirds’ offensive unit took a hit when lefty forward Kyle Jackson was scratched and leading scorer Clarke Petterson was put on the Covid Protocol List. The last-minute changes forced Halifax to use a platoon of Nonkon Thompson, Colton Armstrong, and rookie Connor Watson out the front door. As a result, the team struggled from the outset to give themselves ample time to run set plays while in possession of the ball.

Albany took advantage of their opponent’s roster unrest and recycled the plan from their game against three weeks ago. Andrew Kew (1g, 1a) scored just 48 seconds in, followed by Charlie Kitchen (2g; 4:13) and Joe Resetarits (1g, 3a; 6:38) to open a 3-0 lead less than halfway through the quarter. Armstrong (1g) temporarily stopped the bleeding a minute later, but it seemed the tempo of the game had already been set. Jacob Ruest (1g, 1a) netted another at 14:20 to close the opening frame with Albany leading 4-1.

A Clinic in Pace and Patience

The second quarter began with more fire from the FireWolves, courtesy of Nick Chaykowsky’s (1g) transition marker at 0:12, assisted by Tony Malcom (1g, 1a). Malcom would add another transition goal at 8:07 to make it 6 1.

Albany continued to push in transition whenever possible, keeping the Thunderbirds unbalanced and out of rhythm. Halifax’s designated in-house player Ryan Terefenko would find himself in the penalty box three times during the game for bench minors (two illegal substitution penalties and one unsportsmanlike conduct). The FireWolves only managed 9 shots in the second quarter (to Halifax’s 16), but made the most of them, while goalie Doug Jamieson stopped 23 of 24 shots in the first half to preserve the 5-goal lead entering halftime.

Birds Rally

The halftime break was about the best thing that could happen to the Thunderbirds. They started to claw their way back into the game, with Chris Boushy (2g, 1a) opening the second half scoring at 2:09. Ryan Benesch (1g, 2a) continued Albany’s transition success, catching the defense napping and responding with a shorthanded goal at 6:28 to push the lead back to five.

However, the Halifax power play (surprisingly ranked last in the NLL) continued, and Austin Shanks (2g, 1a) scored just over a minute later to make it 7-3. Later in the third, Eric Fannell (1g; 12:42) cut the deficit to three, taking a low feed as he crossed in front of the crease and hitting the top corner with a wicked low-to-high, around the-world shot.

Too Little, Too Late

Kitchen opened the fourth quarter with his second goal at 0:24, the third Albany goal scored within the first minute of a quarter on the evening. Halifax could only manage Boushy’s second (7:05) and Shanks’s second (12:41). Doug Jamieson continued to shine in net, and the grueling pace of Albany’s transition proved to be a bit too much for a depleted Halifax team to handle.

“I think we’ve found our identity. All our wins have been low-scoring, tight defensive battles, and I think that’s how we have to play. We’re finding that we’re hitting our stride now.”

Doug Jamieson – Albany FireWolves Goalie

3 Stars of the Game:

1st Star: Doug Jamieson (46 saves, 0.885 SV %)

2nd Star: Joe Resetarits

3rd Star: Chris Boushy

Other Stats of Note:

Power Play: HFX 1 of 5; ALB 1 of 5

Loose Balls: HFX 83, ALB 67

Warren Hill (HFX): 33 Saves, 16 Loose Balls (led all players)

Faceoffs: Withers (HFX) 10 of 18; Nardella (ALB) 8 of 18

Gary Groob
Gary Groob

Gary Groob has been involved with Lacrosse for the majority of his life, whether playing, coaching, or covering the sport for the media.

An avid fan, with a real drive about helping to “grow the game”, Gary became part of podcasts about the game in 2010. Through the podcasts, Mr. Groob was given an opportunity to write about lacrosse, and the rest as they say, is history.

Through many miles (flying and driving) Gary has made inroads with the National Lacrosse League, Major Series Lacrosse League, the Ontario Lacrosse Association, as well as the Arena Lacrosse League, covering the leagues, their teams, and players, working for, and in concert with all of them.

In the year 2020, Mr. Groob was made the media person for the Arena Lacrosse League, voted onto the board of directors of the Brampton Excelsiors Lacrosse Club, as well as being made administrator of the Lacrosse page “Global Lacrosse” with a membership of 9000 members in over 90 Countries. Gary was also made an administrator of Lacrosse History Past Present and Future in 2022.

Mr. Groob co-hosts a weekly Lacrosse show on Spanglish Sports World, and ZingoTV channel 250, as well as writes a weekly lacrosse column for La Portada Canada News (both in print, and online).

Gary also hosts a Lacrosse talk show and podcast for The Edge of Philly Sports Network, seen live Sunday nights at 9pm (ET), and archived on the Edge of Philly YouTube page, as well as Spotify.

Mr. Groob’s other sports interests include Hockey, Football, Boxing, Wrestling, and Baseball, competing competitively in Boxing and Wrestling for many years.