Duluth, GA – In what was considered the National Lacrosse League’s must watch game this weekend, the Albany FireWolves (6-0) traveled to face the Georgia Swarm (4-2). They are headed home with a 12-8 win to remain undefeated and boast a franchise best start of 6-0.
Even at 5-0 coming into the game, there were still those across the NLL that believed the FireWolves’ magical start would end against the Swarm. Georgia’s star powered offense would be too much for the FireWolves defense to handle, and the Swarm’s stalwart defense would clamp down on Albany’s young forwards. However, like they have done all season, the FireWolves silenced all doubters with a decisive victory at Gas South Arena.
It was a complete team effort from start to finish as nine different FireWolves scored, Doug Jamieson made 36 saves on 44 shots, Joe Nardella won 20 of 25 faceoffs, and the defense held the Swarm offense to only 8 goals.
Albany was lead offensively by Travis Longboat (2g, 3a) and rookie Alex Simmons (1g, 4a) with 5 points a piece. Colton Watkinson and Ethan Walker each scored 2 goals while scoring was rounded out by Sam Firth, Patrick Kaschalk, John Piatelli, Marshall Powless, and Jackson Nishimura all tallying 1 goal.
Full game stats can be viewed here: https://www.nll.com/game/686385937/albany-firewolves-vs-georgia-swarm/2024-01-13/
The game began with FireWolves captain Watkinson opening the scoring on a breakaway to collect his first goal of the season. Georgia would answer as their captain Jordan MacIntosh scored to even it up 1-1. Albany would then go on a three-goal run with Walker hitching over his defender to score, Firth quick sticking off a beautiful backhand pass from Powless, and Watkinson finding the net again to score a short handed goal. The first quarter would end with the Swarm converting on the power play to bring it to 4-2.
The second quarter saw the FireWolves dominate possession and continue to pour the goals on. Some great ball movement led to Piatelli putting home his first goal in his first action of the season for Albany make it 5-2. Kaschalk would then score on a great slow break like he has done several times this season to increase the lead to 6-2. Georgia answered with a goal to cut it to 6-3, but Longboat scored 2 goals in 39 seconds with a put in off a rebound and a sneaky release from up top to extend the FireWolves’ lead to 8-3.
The Swarm appeared to have scored right before the second quarter ended, but FireWolves head coach Glenn Clark made a successful challenge on the play and it was disallowed because of a shot clock violation. At halftime, Albany controlled the game 8-3.
The third quarter started out with a bang as Walker opened the second half scoring with an acrobatic goal to extend the lead to 9-3. Simmons would follow that up with a harmless looking low angle shot that snuck through Georgia goalie Brett Dobson as Albany took their biggest lead of 10-3. That goal led to Dobson, who was second in the league in save percentage going into the game, being pulled and replaced by back up Angus Goodleaf with almost 26 minutes left in the second half. Georgia would score one in transition and the quarter would end at 10-4.
The fourth quarter saw the Swarm offense and specifically Lyle Thompson come to life as he would score 2 goals in a row to close the gap to 10-5. Just as Georgia was getting some momentum, Powless immediately answered with a great shot to the top left corner to bring the FireWolves lead to 11-6. The Swarm added 2 more goals from Lyle Thompson and Andrew Kew making it 11-8 and soon after pulled their goalie for the extra attacker with only a few minutes remaining. After several big saves by Jamieson, he passed the ball up to Jackson Nishimura who buried the empty net goal and sealed the FireWolves 12-8 win. Albany is only the 13th team in NLL history to start a season 6-0.
Other impressive performances to note are rookie Zachary Young’s career high 9 loose balls, Nick Chaykowsky with 8 or more loose balls for the fourth time this season, both Nishimura and Nardella hitting the milestone of 300 career loose balls, and Simmons’ 5 points keep him as the NLL leader in points with 37 (16g, 21a). For the Swarm, Lyle Thompson lead with 3 goals and 1 assist.
The FireWolves look to continue their hot streak next Saturday, January, 20 as they return home to MVP Arena in downtown Albany to take on the San Diego Seals at 7 pm ET.
Single game tickets for the 2023-2024 FireWolves season are available now! Join us for Margaritaville Night on January 20th at MVP Arena and experience FireWolves lacrosse. For more information regarding tickets, 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.
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/