FireWolves Take 1-0 Series Lead Over Seals

The San Diego Seals welcomed the Albany FireWolves to Pechanga Arena for Game 1 of their best-of-three semifinal matchup. San Diego (13-5 regular season) needed overtime to get past Panther City in the Quarterfinal last week, while Albany (11-7 regular season) displayed a strong defensive effort in beating Halifax 9-3 in their Quarterfinal game. Alex Simmons had a monster night, scoring ten points as the FireWolves earned a 14-12 victory and a 1-0 series lead. Game 2 is Sunday afternoon at MVP Arena in the Capital Region; Albany can punch their ticket to the Finals with a win.

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Second quarter run gives FireWolves first half lead

Dane Dobbie put the Seals up 1-0 just 40 seconds into the game. Alex Simmons (6:15) tied the game for Albany, but Curtis Dickson scored 34 seconds later to restore San Diego’s lead. The FireWolves then went on a five-goal run into the second quarter. Ethan Walker (8:46) tied the game, then Sam Firth’s buzzer beater (14:59) gave Albany a 3-2 lead after one quarter. Simmons struck again (1:22 second quarter), followed by Ethan Walker (2:35 power play) and Tye Kurtz (4:32) to extend the lead to 6-2. However, power play goals from Dobbie (8:28) and Wesley Berg (14:26) cut San Diego’s deficit to 6-4 going into halftime.

FireWolves hold off Seals to take series lead

Tre Leclaire (0:25) pulled the Seals within one when his errant pass to Berg floated past Albany goalie Doug Jamieson. The FireWolves quickly responded with Simmons (0:46) and Nathan Grenon (1:20) pushing the lead back to three. Dickson hit a sub shot on a power play (3:11) to make it 8-6, but Simmons tacked on his fourth and fifth goals of the night (6:25 power play; 9:32) to give the FireWolves a 10-6 lead. Grenon’s second goal (13:39) then put Albany up 11-6 heading into the final frame.

Austin Staats (2:19 fourth quarter) and Berg’s second (3:16) reduced Albany’s lead to 11-8. Mike Byrne (4:21) scored in transition, then Marshall Powless scored a power play goal (9:06) to make it 13-8 in favor of Albany. The Seals made a late charge, with Leclaire’s second (11:28), two more from Dickson (11:53; 13:11), and Dobbie’s hat trick goal (13:53) narrowing the margin to 13-12. But Colton Watkinson (14:21) added an insurance goal to secure the win for the FireWolves.

Other Stats of Note

FireWolves: Simmons (5g, 5a); Walker (2g, 5a); Grenon (2g); Kurtz (1g, 4a); Powless (1g, 3a); Firth (1g, 1a); Watkinson (1g)

Seals: Dickson (4g, 2a); Dobbie (3g, 1a); Berg (2g, 4a); Leclaire (2g); Staats (1g, 5a); Eli Gobrecht (2a)

The faceoff battle between Trevor Baptiste and Joe Nardella did not disappoint, with San Diego winning 17 of 29 draws.

John Wagner (ALB): 11 Loose Balls (led all players), 2 assists

Kyle Rubisch (SD): 3 Caused Turnovers (led all players)

Doug Jamieson (ALB): 27 saves; Chris Origlieri (SD): 38 saves

“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.