The Albany FireWolves (3-14) are home for their final game of the season this Saturday, April 29, at 7:00 p.m. against the Buffalo Bandits (13-4). The two teams met for the first game of the regular season back in December, and the FireWolves came out on top in Western New York, 11-10. Buffalo has already clinched the top playoff seed in the East after defeating the Toronto Rock last weekend, and a win this weekend would clinch the #1 overall seed over the San Diego Seals of the West. This weekend’s game can be watched on My4 Albany or ESPN Plus.
FireWolves Players to Watch:
Connor Kelly was only in his first game with Albany when they defeated Buffalo in Week 1, but he sure showed why the team brought him in during the offseason. The forward posted five points on two goals and three assists in the game and has been one of the most consistent pieces in the Albany offense all season. He has scored multiple points in all but two games this year and has compiled 14 points over the team’s last three games. He continues to lead the club in total points (61) and goals (31), and is third on the team with 30 assists. With it being Albany’s last game of the regular season, Kelly and co. should look to leave it all on the line and come out firing. While Buffalo’s defense and goaltending has been outstanding this season, don’t be surprised to see the FireWolves get hot early in this one as Kelly gets one or two on the board in the first half.
Nick Chaykowsky has been one of Albany’s key defensive pieces this season and last weekend was no different. He scooped up nine loose balls, caused three turnovers, blocked a shot, and even added an assist to his line. Despite the win/loss record, the defense has been relatively solid for Albany this season, largely in part to the number of veterans in the unit. On the season, Chaykowsky ranks second on the club with 16 caused turnovers and six blocked shots, and is third on the club with 75 loose balls. The Bandits come to town with one of the strongest offenses in the league (see below), meaning Chaykowsky and the rest of the FireWolves defense will have their hands full this weekend. If Albany can hold Buffalo to 10 goals max as they did back in December, there is a good shot the team puts one in the win column to end the season.
Though the record doesn’t look great for him, Doug Jamieson has put together a respectable season in net. Logging nearly 800 minutes prior to this weekend, the netminder has allowed just 162 goals while stopping 560 shots at a 78 percent clip. He has been tested all season long and has done his part to keep the FireWolves in a lot of games. On the season, he has recorded at least 50 saves on four different occasions and has surpassed 40 saves eight times. He showed why he is one of the best in the business in Week 1, limiting Buffalo to just 10 goals while recording 45 saves despite Buffalo taking 17 more shots on goal than Albany. It was a low-scoring affair the first time around and it could set up to be that way again this weekend. If Jamieson can be his usual self in net, it will go a long way towards the FireWolves picking up their first win in the MVP Arena this season.
Opposing Players to Watch:
Dhane Smith had an incredible season a year ago and how did he follow that? By putting together another MVP-like season in 2023. He is currently tied for the league lead with 126 total points, and his 92 assists on the year are 15 more than the next closest player. The FireWolves were able to keep him for finding the back of the net when they defeated the Bandits back in December, but Smith still managed to get five assists in the game. Smith is entering this weekend following a #1 seed-clinching game over the Rock where he produced seven total points on two goals and five assists. While the Bandits will still be the top seed in the East regardless of the outcome this weekend, don’t expect Smith to just willingly give up his league lead in points and not be on his A-game.
Josh Byrne is the second half of the offensive juggernaut that will be traveling to the Capital Region this weekend. Despite missing three games this season, Byrne has managed to rack up 85 total points and leads the Bandits with 40 goals. He has been a problem for opposing defenses all year and comes into the weekend fresh off a three goal, three assist game against the Rock. When the FireWolves last saw Buffalo, Byrne managed to score two goals and three assists in the loss. While the Bandits boast a potent offense, Byrne and Smith are far and away their biggest threats. The FireWolves must find a way to limit the Smith to Byrne opportunities to keep up with the Bandits on the scoreboard in this one.
Matt Vinc has already established himself as one of the best goalies in the league, just look up how many Goaltender of the Year awards he has on his shelf. He is having another Goaltender of the Year-type season again, including a brilliant game last weekend, allowing just 10 goals to a Rock team who leads the NLL in goals scored. Last time out against Albany, Vinc was solid, allowing just 11 goals in the loss. He is near the top of the league in just about every goaltending category and will look to solidify another year end award with one final performance to end the regular season. The key to Albany’s victory over Buffalo in December was that FireWolves got up early and then relied on their defense to maintain the lead. Albany led 3-1 after the first period in that contest, and never surrendered the lead after taking it midway through the opening quarter. If the FireWolves can get up early on Vinc, it will bode well for Albany ending the season on a high note.
Fans can secure their tickets now for Albany’s final home game on Saturday, April 29 against the Bandits! For more information regarding tickets and College Night, visit www.AlbanyFireWolves.com or call/text the FireWolves front office at 518-362-4900.
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 Desert Dogs, 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/.