Professional indoor lacrosse returns to Albany as FireWolves fall to Rochester in home opener

The Albany FireWolves played their home opener against the Rochester Knighthawks on Saturday, Dec. 18 at Times Union Center in Albany.

The Albany FireWolves played their home opener against the Rochester Knighthawks on Saturday, Dec. 18 at Times Union Center in Albany.

ALBANY — A new indoor box lacrosse team made its official debut in the Capital Region on Saturday night as the Albany FireWolves, the newest member of the National Lacrosse League, played their inaugural home game.

The FireWolves are the second professional lacrosse team to take the field in Albany, but Saturday marked the first time in 18 years that the city hosted a game after the Albany Attack left the area after four seasons playing downtown.

The night at Times Union Center began with opening ceremonies before ythe game that included appearances by NLL commissioner Nick Sakiewicz, UAlbany men’s lacrosse coach Scott Marr and Shenendehowa alumnus and current Atlanta Braves pitcher Ian Anderson, who was an honorary team captain for the night.

The FireWolves’ opponent for the night, the Rochester Knighthawks, had been a division rival of the FireWolves when Albany was known as the New England Black Wolves. The FireWolves struggled all night and the Knighthawks used an 8-1 run during the first and second quarters to take a 16-7 win in front of the opening night crowd.

“It was greatm,and that’s where things disappoint me,” FireWolves head coach Glenn Clark said. “We’ve been waiting months to do this. We’ve been waiting months to get here. You question yourself because we’ve been talking about what we were heading into the pandemic and what we thought we had coming out of the pandemic. I don’t think that is indicative of the team that we are. We were not good.” 

After a slow first half, the second half was highlighted by a line brawl in the early minutes of the fourth quarter with several different fights happening, including a goaltender fight between Albany’s Ethan Woods and Rochester’s Rylan Hartley. Both goaltenders were ejected.

In addition, in the first half, Albany’s Colton Watkinson dropped the gloves with Rochester’s Tyler Biles after a hard hit in the second quarter for the first fight in the building.

“It’s been a long time [since I’ve seen a goalie fight]. To be honest, I can’t remember. I’ve seen goalies fight some players and things like that,” Clark said. “I don’t know, I didn’t see what happened, really.”

Albany defender Anthony Malcolm provided the first home goal in franchise history, scoring less than four minutes into the game, as the FireWolves took what turned out to be their only lead of the night. Rochester scored the next four goals and never looked back.

“I don’t think we were following the shooting plan, and it snowballed,” Clark said. “We got out of rhythm very early, which I keep saying is not characteristic of our group, but we don’t get to deliver that and say it’s not characteristic.”

Former UAlbany star Joe Resetarits led the FireWolves in scoring with three goals, two of them coming late in the fourth quarter.

“As ugly as the game was, we had some shots,” Resetarits said. “The first two games we’ve played we haven’t gotten a lot of bounces and it’s just how do we build off of that. We all play this game, it’s a long season.”

Despite a loss that dropped the FireWolves to 0-2, there was a sense of excitement with professional lacrosse’s return to Albany.

The team will have to wait three weeks for its next game, which will come Jan. 8 at home against the Saskatchewan Rush, by which time the FireWolves’ home will be operating under its new name as MVP Arena.

“Taking a step back, just the excitement to have this atmosphere, this whole week, almost two weeks,” forward Riley O’Connor said. “Just a lot of excitement and buzz around Albany, the front office, the staff, the fans have all done an amazing job. It’s very welcoming here.”

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