“Muffler” Mike Kostiuk – All Lacrosse All The Time, a Division of the Edge of Philly Sports Network

The Halifax Thunderbirds travelled to MVP Arena Saturday night to face the Albany FireWolves in Week 6 NLL action. Halifax was coming off a surprise loss to Buffalo last week. Albany had not played in two weeks since dropping a one-goal decision to Rochester in Week 3. Albany would also be without the services of goaltender Doug Jamieson, who was put on the PUP list. Several Thunderbirds reached career milestones during a 14-11 victory that improves their record to 3-1. Albany falls to 1-2 on the year.

Thunderbirds hold slim lead after 30

Despite both teams having potent offenses, the game went scoreless for over 10 minutes from the opening faceoff. Charlie Kitchen (10:31) opened the scoring for Albany, burying one past Thunderbirds goalie Warren Hill. Chris Boushy (4g) responded for Halifax with back-to-back goals (10:56; 12:11). The FireWolves then went on a three-goal run. Hiana Thompson (2g; 12:38), Connor Kelly (4g, 1a; 13:30), and Ethan Walker (1g, 2a; 14:35) lit the lamp in succession to give Albany a 4-2 lead after 15 minutes of play.

Randy Staats (2g, 7a) opened the second quarter scoring at 1:33, trimming the deficit to one, but Kelly’s second goal (3:02) made it 5-3. Halifax then exploded with a three-goal run in a span of 45 seconds. Eric Fannell (4g, 2a; 4:17), Ryan Benesch (1g, 3a; 4:53), and Boushy’s hat trick goal (5:01) gave the Thunderbirds a 6-5 lead before Kelly (6:01) tied the game again with his hat trick goal on a power play. The Thunderbirds restored a two-goal lead with markers from Austin Shanks (1g, 1a; 12:38) and Cody Jamieson (1g, 3a; 14:26). However, top 2021 draft pick Patrick Kaschalk scored his first career NLL goal for Albany with just two seconds left on the clock to narrow the gap to 8-7 entering halftime.

Late run lifts Thunderbirds to victory

As the second half began, tempers began to flare, culminating in a fight between Staats and Albany defenseman Brent Mitchell. However, the FireWolves were able to capitalize on the ensuing power plays. Kieran McArdle (1g, 3a) scored a fluke goal at 5:21 when his inside feed deflected off a Halifax defender’s stick and snuck past Hill. Likewise, Thompson (6:11) added his second on the same extended power play. Fannell’s second (14:57) off a broken play tied the game 9-9 entering the final frame.

Colton Watkinson (2:35) gave Albany the lead again with a transition goal. Fannell tallied his hat trick goal (3:23) to tie the game again. Kelly’s fourth goal restored Albany’s lead, but the Thunderbirds went on a four-goal run to seal the victory. Boushy notched his fourth goal on a power play (6:20), followed by Staats’s second of the night (8:14). Clarke Petterson would extend the lead to 13-11 just 39 seconds later, and Fannell closed the scoring with his fourth goal at 13:17. These two teams meet again next Friday night at the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Other Stats of Note

Justin Geddie made a whopping 61 saves on 75 shots in a losing effort for Albany, starting in place of Doug Jamieson.

Halifax’s Jake Withers dominated on faceoffs with Albany’s Joe Nardella out for the season, winning 26 of 30 draws, including the 1,200th of his career. He is just outside the all-time Top 10 in only his fourth season in the league.

With 4 points on the night, Thunderbirds forward Ryan Benesch passed Hall of Famer Gary Gait for 7th place all-time in points scored in NLL history.

PIM: HFX 21; ALB 24

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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.