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FireWolves Comeback Falls Short, Lose 4th Straight

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Image Credit: Caden Balint – Stream Punk Entertainment

Last night the Albany FireWolves (10-6) hosted the Toronto Rock (13-3) in a meeting between 2 of the best teams in the National Lacrosse League and what could still be a future late playoff matchup.  This game saw a tale of similar playing styles as the FireWolves and the Rock both run a high octane offense with offensive minded defensemen being able to jump in on the rush and contribute on both sides of the ball, all backed by 2 of the very best goaltenders in the league in Dougie Jamieson and Nick Rose.  Before the game got underway the FireWolves honored former captain Brett Manney with a ceremony to celebrate his career and having his number 13 retired by the franchise.  Along with Manney having his jersey retired the FireWolves also paid tribute to the Albany Attack, the very first National Lacrosse League to play in Albany back in the early 2000s, with retro night. 

Albany was looking to break a 3 game losing streak when they took on the Rock, but they were also looking for a personal losing streak to end as they have yet to beat the Rock since making the move from New England to Albany.  Albany looked to break these streaks right off the bat by winning the opening draw and taking the play into the offensive zone as soon as they could however the lockdown defense of the Rock was showing early as they were able to disrupt any shooting chances that Albany was finding and due to this defensive clamp, a rush took form and a goal was the result for the Rock as their captain Challen Rogers opened the scoring.  Albany didn’t let this kill their confidence as less than 2 minutes later rookie sensation Alex Simmons was able to score his first of 2 goals on a beautiful snipe past Rose.  This put the momentum on the side of the FireWolves and it showed as the Rock were doing anything and everything they could to get into the head of Albany, ramping up the physicality and trying to throw the young guns off their game, however Sam Firth would show that it wasn’t getting to them as he put Albany up with 5 seconds left in the first.  

With the start of the second quarter Albany did what they could to take control of the momentum from the end of the first, however Chris Boushy would light a fire underneath the Rock as this would lead to a 5 goal run for Toronto, with continued FireWolves hunter Tom Schreiber, who ended the night with 6 points, would score 4 of his 6 points during this 5 goal run that the Rock found themselves on.  During this run any pressure that Albany brought was completely shut down by goaltender Nick Rose, who had a game to remember himself.  Coming into this game Rose had milestones on his mind where he was not only 28 saves away from passing Pat O’Toole for 4th all time in NLL saves, but along with that he was 1 win away from passing Toronto legend Bob Watson for 1st all time in wins for the franchise.  During this second quarter the Rock relied heavily on Rose while shutting down any type of momentum that the FireWolves looked to gain on their multiple long offensive zone moments that Albany found themselves on.  While the Rock did find themselves in possession of a 4 goal lead in the 2nd, Toronto could have easily found themselves in a much larger lead but Dougie Jamieson was not letting that happen, preventing the Rock from going up by a larger margin than they already were.  Thanks to Dougie and the big saves he was making the momentum was back on the side of the FireWolves as they would ramp up the pressure on the Rock and Alex Simmons made sure this momentum would end with a goal and he did as he would take flight and score his second of the night.  However once that goal was scored the Rock found themselves right back in control of this game by putting themselves up by 4 again, preventing any shooting opportunities and getting in front of any shooting lanes Albany had found.  

Going into the 3rd quarter the Rock had kept on the pressure as they would find themselves up by 5 goals and a continuous clamp on defense seemed to have the FireWolves upset but it didn’t get to Dougie as he continued to shine in this game for Albany.  Not only was Jamieson making some beautiful saves to keep the score in reach for the FireWolves, but he became the spark for an attempted comeback for his team as he would send a bomb pass to Nick Chaykowsky to cut the lead back to 4.  After this goal the FireWolves and the Rock found themselves in dueling power play opportunities with the Rock being unable to capitalize on their 1 chance but Sam Firth did give Albany a powerplay goal as he would finish on a set of tic tac toe passing by the FireWolves and as the 3rd came to an end Albany and Toronto had a not so quite friendly meeting of the minds which have the teams play 4 aside at the start of the 4th quarter.  

As the 4th got started the Rock attempted to put the dagger into the Albany but the never say die mentality of the FireWolves continued to show as they would go on a small run of their own, controlling most of the play and being able to score twice with goals from Anthony Joaquim and captain Colton Watkinson.  As the 4th quarter was winding to an end, Albany had the fans behind them in full force and proved to Toronto that even if they keep the pressure on and the physicality up, they can never truly keep the FireWolves down.  With the game coming to an end the FireWolves did whatever they could to try and come back however with the net empty Nick Rose would fire it down field, scoring and making the game 10-7 and completing a massive night for himself posting 47 saves, his 106th career win and his scoring his 4th goal of his career.  

For the FireWolves, they will be taking this week to regroup, get stronger and prepare for another chance to clinch a home playoff game as they will head to the Lone Star State and take on the Panther City Lacrosse Club.  With 2 games left for Albany they will look to snap their current losing streak, take all the momentum they can and go full steam ahead into the NLL Playoffs!

Caden Balint is a graduate of La Salle Institute in Troy, NY and Merrimack College in North Andover, MA and has been in love with sports forever. Whether it is watching, playing, writing, sports have always been a passion. Getting the chance to start his dream of sports journalism with Stream Punk is just the start of a long journey. In his spare time Caden enjoys playing hockey, spending time with his loved ones and playing video games but you will soon get to know him a lot more!

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