Las Vegas, NV – The Albany FireWolves (1-0) started the 2023-24 National Lacrosse League season with a 12-10 win against the Las Vegas Desert Dogs (0-1) at Michelob Ultra Arena. Travis Longboat scored what would be the game winner to make it 11-10 with 4 minutes left in the game for the FireWolves who came back from an early deficit to come out on top in a wild one in Sin City.
It was a balanced effort for the FireWolves with eight different players finding the back of the net. They were led by Ethan Walker (2G, 3A), Sam Firth (2G, 3A), Marshall Powless (1G, 4A), and Longboat (1G, 3A). Rookies Tye Kurtz (2G, 3A) and Alex Simmons (2G, 2A) both had great NLL debuts. Doug Jamieson started the season off strong in net with 31 saves on 41 shots.
The first game of the NLL season for both teams started out in an unlikely way.
Marshall Powless appeared to have scored the first goal of the game, but Las Vegas Head Coach Shawn Williams challenged and was correct that the shot clock had run out before he had put the ball in the net. Then, Zack Greer scored for Vegas, which Albany Head Coach Glenn Clark challenged, but this goal was confirmed and the Desert Dogs went up 1-0. Vegas added another immediately after to make it 2-0.
The FireWolves answered back quickly as defender Patrick Kaschalk stayed on the floor for an offensive shift and scored Albany’s first goal of the season to make it 2-1. The Desert Dogs would score twice more to take a 4-1 lead before Walker scored on quick stick bounce shot to cut it to 4-2. Firth would score next with a shot around his defender to make it 4-3 as the 1st Quarter came to an end.
The FireWolves started the 2nd Quarter on the power play, but Rob Hellyer would score a shorthanded goal for Vegas making it 5-3. The Desert Dogs then scored again to extend the lead to 6-3. Vegas goalie Landon Kells frustrated the Albany offense early on, but they would respond with 3 goals in two minutes as Simmons would weave his way through the defense to score his first NLL goal, Powless would score in transition, and then Leo Stouros scored immediately off the faceoff to even it up 6-6. The game would reach halftime with the score still 6-6.
The intensity of the season opener for both teams was there all game in big loose ball scrums, hard picks, and plenty of hits.
To start the second half, the teams traded goals as John Wagner would score on a breakaway for Vegas, Firth would answer quickly for the FireWolves to tie it, and then Casey Jackson would score to give the Desert Dogs the lead once again 8-7. Late in the 3rd Quarter the FireWolves would submit their first Sportscenter Top 10 entry of the year with a dazzling play. Longboat flipped a pass to Powless who flung a backhand pass to Walker who then flew through the crease to tie it 8-8.
Both teams’ defenses held strong early in the 4th Quarter, but rookie Tye Kurtz would break the stalemate and score his first career NLL goal on a crafty backhand shot to give Albany their first lead of the game 9-8. The Desert Dogs answered with two quick goals of their own to take back the lead 10-9.
With under five minutes left in the game, the new faces for Albany came up big as Simmons scored on a diving effort to tie it up 10-10 and Longboat struck just 27 seconds later to give them back the lead 11-10. Jamieson made several clutch saves in the final minutes to shut down the Desert Dogs as they made their comeback effort. Kurtz would get another one past Kells to solidify the win for the FireWolves 12-10.
In the first game of the season for this young group, the FireWolves did well to weather the storm and find their chemistry on offense and defense. The FireWolves beat the Desert Dogs in almost every category including loose balls, faceoffs, blocked shots, and shots on net. The game marked the FireWolves debuts for Tye Kurtz, Alex Simmons, Travis Longboat, Nicholas Volkov, Zachary Young, Jeff Trainor, and Sam Firth. Each made important contributions and rookies Kurtz and Simmons especially showed well in their first NLL action.
Next up for the FireWolves is their home opener at MVP Arena in Albany on Saturday, December 9 against the defending NLL Champions the Buffalo Bandits. Catch the game in person or watch on ESPN+, TSN+, or locally on MY4.
Single game tickets for the 2023-2024 FireWolves season are available now! 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/.