Since falling to the New York Riptide on the road at the end of March, the Albany FireWolves have won back-to-back games and are in the driver’s seat for a playoff spot heading into the final week of the regular season. Though Albany has been in the playoff mindset for the past month, heading into this weekend’s slate it’s simple: win and you’re in. The FireWolves currently hold the fifth spot in the Eastern Conference and can finish as high as the fourth seed in the East with a victory this weekend and a loss by the Georgia Swarm. If Albany wins and Georgia defeats the Philadelphia Wings, then the FireWolves would earn the fourth seed in the Western bracket and face the top-seeded team in the Western Conference. The first round of the playoffs will be a one-game matchup hosted by the higher seeds. For full coverage of this weekend’s matchup against the Riptide, fans can tune into on My4 WNYT and ESPN Plus to watch, or 103.9 The Breeze to listen at 7 p.m. EST.
New York got the better of Albany the last time the two teams met in March, winning 15-6 on Long Island. Since then, the Riptide have won just two games, including an upset win against the top-seeded Buffalo Bandits on the road. Despite New York’s 6-11 record, the Riptide have been one of the better scoring teams this season, ranking second overall in the NLL with 205 goals for. Conversely, the Riptide have allowed the second most goals in the league this year, giving up 209. The Riptide have already been eliminated from playoff contention and will look to play spoilers to the FireWolves’ inaugural season finale.
FireWolves Players to Watch:
Joe Resetarits, yes, he is in the matchup preview just about every week, but how could he not be? The first and only American-born player to log 100 total points in a season just completed the feat for the second time in his career in the FireWolves’ most recent victory over Philadelphia. Resetarits has been as close to a sure thing as it comes all season and enters the game having scored at least four points in every contest dating back to early January. He ranks fourth in the league with 100 total points and his 42 goals rank third. He was one of the few bright spots for Albany when these two teams met previously, tallying five points in the contest. In a must-win game, who better to rely on then someone like Resetarits who has been Albany’s ace all season long.
Ryan Benesch has been a key contributor to the FireWolves offense since joining the team in January and has the potential to explode in Albany’s biggest game of the season. Coming off a three-point performance two weekends ago, Benesch currently sits second overall on the team with 74 total points and 47 assists. His leadership is unparalleled and the FireWolves will no doubt look to lean on his experience to advance into the first round of the playoffs. He has been money on power play opportunities all season, ranking seventh in the league with eight. If Albany can force a handful of man-up advantages in this one, look for Benesch to be a key cog in the power play unit as the team must capitalize on a high percentage of power plays.
Reilly O’Connor was another one of the FireWolves’ bright spots in their 15-6 loss against the Riptide earlier this season. The forward logged four total points on two goals and two assists in the game. On the season, O’Connor ranks fourth overall on the FireWolves with 48 points, and third with 35 assists. He has been hot over the team’s last four games, recording multiple points in each of them. It will be all hands-on deck this weekend as the team looks to win big against an opponent who surrenders a lot of goals. Look for O’Connor to get involved as a goal scorer while also setting up the likes of Resetarits and Benesch with open looks all game.
Opposing Players to Watch:
Callum Crawford was the leading scorer on the New England Black Wolves before the team relocated to Albany. In his first game against the FireWolves this season, Crawford showed why he is still one of the premier offensive players in the league. He finished the game with eight total points on four goals and four assists as the Riptide had their way with Albany. His 38 goals on the season rank first on the Riptide and eighth overall in the NLL. The FireWolves had no answer for him in the previous matchup and must find a way to slow him down this weekend with a playoff berth on the line.
Jeff Teat has taken the league by storm in his rookie year and lived up to the hype when the FireWolves met the Riptide last month. The rookie tallied four points with three goals and one assist and came out of the gate hot, scoring two goals in the first period. Entering the weekend, Teat is one of just four players to have recorded 100 total points on the season and he currently ranks third overall in the NLL with 103. He can beat any defense in a multitude of ways, proven by his 36 goals (second best on the team) and 67 assists (best on the team). Teat and Crawford have been a two-headed monster all season long and Albany must find a way to keep them from lighting up the scoreboard in a must-win game.
Goaltender Steve Orleman may have allowed the second most goals in the league after 17 games (184), but he has managed to maintain a respectable .773 save percentage. He allowed just six goals to Albany in the first go around, the second fewest Orleman has allowed all season. He had Albany’s number all night, recording 43 saves at a season-best .878 clip. The Albany offense has been clicking lately, scoring 11 goals in each of their last two contests. Six goals will not get it done in this rematch and the FireWolves must stay hot on offense and score early and often against a team that has the capability to bail out their goalie by scoring a lot of their own.
This will be the second and final time that the FireWolves and Riptide meet this season. The two teams played on March 26 with New York besting Albany 15-6. Albany can still sneak into the playoffs if they fall short in this one, but a win guarantees a berth.
Fans can secure their tickets for the 2021-22 FireWolves regular season finale 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.