The Albany FireWolves hosted the defending NLL Champion Buffalo Bandits at MVP Arena in NLL Week 2 action. The FireWolves, who came from behind to beat Las Vegas in Week 1, went a dismal 0-9 at home last year. However, one of the few bright spots in last year’s campaign was beating the Bandits in Buffalo in last year’s season opener. With five different players scoring at least two goals, the FireWolves spoiled the champs’ season opener for the second straight year, moving to 2-0 on the year with a gritty 17-13 win.

Dolans Bar

FireWolves take control with big second quarter

Ethan Walker (2g, 5a) opened the scoring for Albany with a power play goal at 4:57. Buffalo countered with goals from Josh Byrne (2g, 7a; 5:22) and Brandon Robinson (2g, 1a; 11:53). Both teams also employed their fists, as a whopping 38 penalty minutes were assessed in the first quarter, including six majors for fighting. Marshall Powless (3g, 1a) then knotted the game at 2 with a power play goal from a narrow angle with just one second remaining in the quarter.

The penalty minutes cooled down in the second quarter, but the goal scoring heated up, especially for the FireWolves. Tye Kurtz (2g, 3a; 0:29) and Walker’s second goal (3:57) were countered by markers from Dhane Smith (1g, 5a; 1:31 power play) and Chris Cloutier (4g, 1a; 4:36). Albany then went on a four-goal run. Alex Simmons (5g, 3a) went back-to-back (4:46; 6:38), followed by Joe Nardella (6:55) and a second goal from Powless (8:38) to make it 8-4. The teams traded goals at the end of the quarter, with Buffalo getting Cloutier’s second goal (9:22) and a score from Tehoka Nanticoke (2g, 2a; 12:27). Travis Longboat (2g, 5a) replied with a pair of goals (9:46; 13:04) to give the FireWolves a 10-6 lead at halftime.

FireWolves keep pace with Bandits in second half

Albany continued to push the pace in the second half, answering any attempts by Buffalo to make a run and close the gap. Cloutier’s hat trick goal (0:47) was equalized by Kurtz’s second (1:21). Ian MacKay (1g, 2a; 6:04) and Nanticoke’s second (12:05) narrowed the FireWolves’ lead to two, 11-9. Simmons (12:33) scored his third, then Byrne (14:15) scored his second to make it 12-10 Albany entering the fourth quarter.

Jackson Nishimura (1:36) and Patrick Kaschalk (1:55) extended the FireWolves’ lead back to four. Robinson’s second (3:20) and Chase Fraser (5:39) cut the lead to two, but the Bandits could get no closer. Powless (7:02) and Cloutier (8:02) traded goals, then Simmons went back-to-back again (11:54; 13:30) to put the game out of reach.

Other Stats of Note

Nardella went 22 of 34 on faceoffs, and recorded his 500th career faceoff win.

Nathan Grenon (ALB): 3 assists in his first game with the FireWolves

Sam Firth (ALB): 5 assists

Power Play: BUF 1 of 3; ALB 2 of 6

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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.