The Albany FireWolves (1-0) will make their home debut for the 2022-23 season this Saturday, December 17, at 7:00 p.m. against the Rochester Knighthawks (2-0). Albany opened the season with a one-goal win on the road against last year’s top-seeded Buffalo Bandits. Looking to build on the early momentum, the FireWolves will face a Knighthawks team who has begun the season winning their first two games. Despite their 4-14 record last season, Rochester had Albany’s number, defeating the FireWolves in both matchups between the two clubs. This weekend’s game can be watched on My4 Albany or ESPN Plus.
FireWolves Players to Watch:
Tanner Thomson showed that he is more than capable of heading the FireWolves’ new look offense in the team’s road victory over the Bandits. The second year forward led the team with seven total points on two goals and five assists. With Albany’s top five scorers from a season ago departing in the offseason, Thomson has already answered all the questions surrounding the offense early on in the new year. Rochester has allowed just 18 goals in their first two games, but look out for Thomson to add to his early season totals as Albany looks to take a 2-0 record into the holiday break.
Connor Kelly, a new addition to the FireWolves this offseason, finished just one point shy of Thomson for the team lead in the team’s win two weeks ago. The Forward tallied six points in his FireWolves debut on two goals and four assists. Albany brought him in for his offense and he did not disappoint in the team’s opening game. Look out for Thomson and Kelly to continue to be a one-two punch as they both find the back of the net and set up open teammates in this one.
Joe Nardella showed why he is one of the best faceoff men in the game and took care of business from the dot two weekends ago. He went 15 of 25 on faceoff opportunities, securing extra possessions for Albany in the win. On top of his faceoff performance, Nardella compiled a game-high 17 loose ball recoveries and caused two turnovers. Despite Albany dropping both games to the Knighthawks last season, Nardella absolutely dominated faceoffs, going 46 of 57 combined. Expect Nardella to keep doing Nardella things at the faceoff dot while also continuing to be a factor on the defensive end of the floor.
Opposing Players to Watch:
Connor Fields is a familiar name to Capital Region lacrosse fans. The former UAlbany standout is off to a hot start with his new team, logging 17 points on eight goals and nine assists in Rochester’s opening two games. The FireWolves’ stout defense did a good job keeping the reigning MVP Dhane Smith out of the net in the team’s opening weekend win over Buffalo, but Smith still managed to assist on five of the Bandits’ 10 goals. Albany will have their hands full again this weekend trying to slow down one of the game’s best offensive players. Fields will certainly try to put on a show in front of his old college fans and the FireWolves must find a way to limit him if they want to start off the new season 2-0.
Thomas Hoggarth, like Fields, is also off to a strong start on the new season. Second on the team in points through the first two games, Hoggarth has recorded nine points on six goals and three assists. In last weekend’s win over the Toronto Rock, the forward netted four goals for the Knighthawks and will look to carry that momentum with him to Albany. Of his six goals, Fields has assisted on all but one of them so far. The FireWolves defense will once again be challenged and will have to figure out how to prevent Fields and Hoggarth from lighting up the scoreboard in this one.
Goaltender Rylan Hartley certainly entertained Albany fans in the home opener last season, dropping the gloves and pads and meeting the FireWolves’ backup goaltender in the center of the floor. He has had himself a fantastic first two games in net, securing wins in each while saving a whopping 97 opposing shots on goal. The FireWolves managed to best one of the best goalies to ever do it in Week 1 and will face another brick wall netminder just two weeks after. Albany’s new look offense answered a lot of questions in Buffalo and will again need to continue to find its identity to get shots past Hartley.
This will be the first of two regular season matchups between Albany and Rochester this season. The FireWolves will visit the Knighthawks towards the end of the season for a rematch on Saturday, April 8.
Fans can secure their tickets now for the FireWolves’ home opening game this weekend! For more information regarding tickets, visit www.AlbanyFireWolves.com or call/text the FireWolves front office at 518-362-4900.