Coming off a huge win against the Western Division’s leader, the San Diego Seals, Albany returns home for a rematch against inner state foes, the Buffalo Bandits. Albany’s victory last weekend snapped a three-game losing streak as they look to ride that momentum while seeking revenge against the another first place team this weekend. The FireWolves currently sit in fourth place in the Eastern Division, just a game back in the win column behind the third place Toronto Rock. For full coverage of this Saturday’s matchup against the Bandits at 7 p.m., fans can tune into on My4 WNYT and ESPN Plus to watch, or 104.5 The Team ESPN Radio to listen.
The Bandits come to the Capital Region with a league-best 8-1 record sitting atop the Eastern Division. The last time the two teams met, the Bandits won on their turf. The game was bizarre in that all 21 of the combined goals scored were into the same net. The Bandits have won their last two games, including a dominant 14-8 victory over Rochester last weekend. Buffalo has imposed their will on both sides of the floor so far this season, leading the league in scoring while allowing the second fewest goals as well.
FireWolves Players to Watch:
Ryan Benesch has been one of the most dominant offensive players in the league throughout his career, and he has been one half of an unstoppable force during the month of February for the FireWolves. Between him and Joe Resetarits, the two have combined for a total of 83 points in Albany’s last six games. Benesch had a solid outing in the loss two weekends ago against one of his former teams in Buffalo. The forward turned in a five-point effort on two goals and three assists. Currently, Benesch ranks tied for fifth in the league with 55 total points and sixth overall with 34 assists. Albany will surely need Benesch to keep his high-level play up as the team looks to not only avenge a loss to the Bandits, but to gain momentum for a playoff push.
Jacob Ruest has been one of those guys who you could feel a breakout performance coming from at some point, and Albany got one in last weekend’s win over the Seals. Ruest logged a four-goal performance in what was a massive victory against a first-place team. The forward has quietly had himself a productive season in his first year with the organization, ranking fourth on the team with 15 goals and fifth on the team with 23 total points. In the prior meeting against Buffalo, Ruest logged one goal and one assist. If Ruest can get hot, he will be just another weapon for opposing defenses to focus on which is exactly what the FireWolves need heading down the stretch.
Joe Resetarits¸ alongside Benesch, has been one half of a dominant offensive unit this season. The Western, New York native has simply owned opposing defenses all year, leading the league with 66 total points while his 27 goals find him ranked second overall. He leads the team in points, goals, and assists, and is coming off a spectacular performance in last weekend’s win over the Seals, adding nine total points to his numbers on two goals and seven assists. In the last meeting against Buffalo, Resetarits recorded five total points on two goals and three assists. Resetarits has been a standout lacrosse player in the Capital Region dating back to his collegiate days at UAlbany and the FireWolves need him, along with Benesch and the rest of the offensive firepower, to stay hot to remain in playoff contention.
Opposing Players to Watch:
Chris Cloutier has been one of the premiere assist guys for Buffalo all season, but in the last meeting between Buffalo and Albany, his goal scoring ability shined. Despite only recording 12 goals to this point in the season, four of them came in the Bandits’ victory over the FireWolves just two weeks ago. Cloutier also logged one assist, giving him a total of five points in the game. He currently ranks third on the team with 34 points on 12 goals and 22 assists and is yet another dangerous weapon in the league’s most potent offense. Cloutier is coming off a three-assist game in the team’s win over Rochester last weekend and will look to continue to setup his teams in goal-scoring opportunities all night in the rematch against Albany.
Dhane Smith has been one of the most dominant players in the league through the team’s nine games this season. His 62 total points currently ranks second in the league behind Albany’s Resetarits, and his 42 assists top the NLL’s ranks. The FireWolves held Smith scoreless through the first three quarters two weekends ago, but he still ended the game with two goals to go along with his four assists. The righty is coming off an impressive nine-point performance against the Knighthawks on three goals and six assists. The Bandit’s offense is loaded with weapons, but Smith should be a focus for the Albany defense in this one.
Goaltender Matt Vinc may actually be under the radar this year given how strong the Buffalo offense has been. Through nine games, Vinc has allowed merely 86 goals and has stood on his head all season long. In the first meeting against the FireWolves, Vinc allowed only eight goals while recording 54 saves in the victory. Last weekend was a nearly identical performance as Vinc allowed eight goals and stopped 52 Rochester shots. Albany’s offense will not get anything easy on Vinc, but they must find ways to capitalize on open looks and power play opportunities if they want to settle the score against the Bandits. It is certainly clear how Vinc has won the NLL Goaltender of the Year award seven, yes seven, times throughout his decorated career.
This will be the second and final time that the Bandits and FireWolves meet this season. Buffalo defeated Albany in the prior matchup on Friday, February 18, 13-8.
Fans can secure their tickets for any of the 2021-22 FireWolves games today! For more information regarding tickets, visit www.AlbanyFireWolves.com or call/text the FireWolves front office at 518-362-4900.
The Albany FireWolves 2021-22 Inaugural Season is presented by CDPHP.
About Albany FireWolves
The Albany FireWolves is the Capital Region’s very own Professional Box Lacrosse team, playing in the National Lacrosse League out of the MVP Arena in downtown Albany, NY. For more information, contact the Albany FireWolves Front Office at (518) 362-4900 or visit AlbanyFireWolves.com. Follow the team on Facebook at facebook.com/AlbFireWolves, Twitter @AlbFireWolves, and Instagram @AlbFireWolves.
About the National Lacrosse League
The National Lacrosse League (NLL) is North America’s premier professional lacrosse league. Founded in 1986, the NLL ranks third in average attendance for pro indoor sports worldwide, behind only the NHL and NBA. The League is comprised of 15 franchises across the United States and Canada: Albany FireWolves, Buffalo Bandits, Calgary Roughnecks, Colorado Mammoth, Georgia Swarm, Halifax Thunderbirds, Las Vegas NLL, New York Riptide, Panther City Lacrosse Club (TX), Philadelphia Wings, Rochester Knighthawks, San Diego Seals, Saskatchewan Rush, Toronto Rock, and Vancouver Warriors.
For more information, visit NLL.com and find @NLL on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. For more information visit NLL.com.
About ASM Global
ASM Global is the world’s leading venue management and services company. The company was formed by the combination of AEG Facilities and SMG, global leaders in venue and event strategy and management. The company’s elite venue network spans five continents, with a portfolio of more than 325 of the world’s most prestigious arenas, stadiums, convention, and exhibition centers, and performing arts venues. From Aberdeen to Anchorage, and Sydney to Stockholm, its venues connect people through the unique power of live experiences. ASM Global’s diverse portfolio of clients benefit from the company’s depth of resources and unparalleled experience, expertise and creative problem solving. Each day, the company’s 61,000 passionate employees around the world deliver locally tailored solutions and cutting-edge technologies to deliver maximum results for venue owners and amazing experiences for guests. By consistently looking for new ways to envision, innovate and empower the spaces and places that bring people together, ASM Global elevates the human spirit while delivering the highest value for all stakeholders. For more information, please visit www.asmglobal.com.
About MVP Arena
MVP Arena is a full-service entertainment and sports facility featuring a wide variety of family shows, sporting events, trade shows and concerts. Owned by Albany County and managed by ASM Global, MVP Arena opened in 1990 and is home to the Albany FireWolves of the National Lacrosse League, the Albany Empire of the National Arena League and the Division I Men’s College Basketball Siena Saints. For more information, please visit https://www.mvparena.com/.
Established in 1984, CDPHP is a physician-founded, member-focused and community-based not-for-profit health plan that offers high-quality affordable health insurance plans to members in 26 counties throughout New York. CDPHP is also on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram.