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ALBANY, NY – No one expected the Albany FireWolves to be in the National Lacrosse League (NLL) Championship series at the start of the 2023-24 season. No one except the coaches and players in the FireWolves locker room believed that this team was capable of making a run at the NLL Cup. Now the youngest team in the NLL can shock the lacrosse world with only the defending NLL champion Buffalo Bandits standing in their way. This matchup of New York state rivals is sure to be an NLL Finals to remember. 

The best-of-three championship series all starts at MVP Arena in downtown Albany for Game 1 of the NLL Finals presented by AXIA Time on Friday, May 17 at 7 pm. Game will be nationally broadcast on TSN and available to stream on ESPN+ and TSN+.  

A Season To Remember  

After only 3 wins a season ago, the FireWolves had a franchise best 11 win regular season and now have continued to make history with three straight playoff wins through the first two rounds of the NLL playoffs. The herculean efforts of goalie Doug Jamieson, the FireWolves defense locking it down, 19 points from Rookie of the Year finalist Alex Simmons, and this whole roster of hardnosed players have propelled them to a chance at the NLL Cup. The leadership of Glenn Clark, who won both Coach and General Manager of the Year, has kept them steady and ready for anything the opposing teams have thrown at them. No matter what happens in the next few games, this FireWolves team will go down as one of the best comeback stories lacrosse has ever seen.  

The New Kids On The Block  

For the past two seasons the NLL Championship featured the Buffalo Bandits and Colorado Mammoth. The FireWolves are bringing new life into the finals and with only three players on the roster with experience in these games they are truly the new kids on the block. Clark won five NLL Championships as a player and assistant coach Darryl Gibson has two. The blend of a young and fast squad of players with experienced coaches and leaders will allow the FireWolves to not be fazed by the big stage. Albany has been playing their best lacrosse at the right moment as they have impact players all over the floor who could step up to mark their names in NLL history.  

Scouting The Bandits 

The Buffalo Bandits have been in four straight NLL Finals and their players know what it takes to raise that trophy. Offensive Player of the Year Josh Byrne is their catalyst on offense and goalie Matt Vinc brings a lot of championship experience to their back end. They struggled at points in the regular season including two losses to the FireWolves, but the Bandits righted the ship and have been playing great lacrosse in May.  

FireWolves Players To Watch 

John Wagner has been the dynamic presence the FireWolves have needed to get an edge in the playoffs as his lockdown defense, amazing loose ball numbers, and ability to simply make plays has been so big for this playoff run.  

Alex Simmons leads the NLL playoffs with 19 points (9 goals, 10 assists) and has shown no fear as he is seizing this moment. The Rookie of the Year finalist will look to stay hot in the biggest moment of his young career.  

Great goaltending is always a big key for any team’s playoff run and Doug Jamieson has provided the perfect calming presence while also making incredible saves. He knows the Bandits shooters well and will look to keep them at bay.  

Opposing Players To Watch  

Matt Vinc has won 4 NLL Championships in his career and at 41 years old is playing some of the best lacrosse of his career. The FireWolves will need to get some early goals on him to wear him down.  

Josh Byrne breaks down defenses with his change of direction and ability to shoot from anywhere. The FireWolves defense will have their hands full, but have had success against Byrne in past games.  

Connor Farrell gave the Bandits a faceoff man who can gives them crucial extra possessions, but he is a player that only takes faceoffs and no defense. Joe Nardella will battle with him at the faceoff circle all game.  

Tickets are now available for Game 1 of the NLL Finals presented by AXIA Time at MVP Arena this Friday, May 17 at 7 pm as the Albany FireWolves face the Buffalo Bandits. Get your playoff tickets starting at $27 here https://albanyfirewolves.com/tickets/ticket-center/ 

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. 

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 Firebirds of the Arena Football League and the Division I Men’s College Basketball Siena Saints. For more information, please visit https://www.mvparena.com/ 

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