NLL: FireWolves defeat Thunderbirds 11-10 in overtime

Halifax, Nova Scotia – Jan 13, 2023: National Lacrosse League game between the Halifax Thunderbirds and Albany Firewolves at the Scotiabank Center in Halifax, Nova Scotia. (Trevor MacMillan/Halifax Thunderbirds)

Kieran McArdle was not allowing the Albany FireWolves to drop two straight games against the Halifax Thunderbirds. 

McArdle scored two goals and added two assists, getting a point on all of Albany’s four fourth quarter goals to send the game to overtime. In the extra frame, McArdle ran into the high slot and fired the winner into the net. The FireWolves beat the Thunderbirds 11-10 in overtime at the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax after losing to them 14-11 last week in Albany. 

“We knew (Halifax) is a great team and they’re going to score. So we knew we had to get 10 goals on that offence,” said McArdle. “We just kept plugging away offensively and defensively they were making some stops and some shots fell late for us.” 

McArdle turned up the heat in the fourth quarter but he was excellent all night, finishing with a game-high eight points and 17 shots; he also picked up five loose balls. 

“I think early my shots weren’t falling and I just kept sticking to it. I think three of my goals were pretty late in the game so I just kept having confidence in myself and shooting the ball.” 

Even though Halifax lost the game in overtime, Eric Fannell, who scored a hat trick, didn’t like his team’s performance. Specifically when it came to their effort throughout the game. 

“They played well, we didn’t play well, that’s why they won,” said Fannell. “We just need to play a full 60 minutes if we expect to win. Every team in this league is good; if we don’t play a full 60 there’s no chance of winning.” 

Halifax opened the scoring a minute into the game. Halifax’s goalie Warren Hill made a save, and passed it halfway down the floor to Colton Armstrong and he got on a breakaway to score his first of the season. 

Albany answered back on the power play. Tanner Thomson made a behind-the-back pass to Ethan Walker in the slot and Walker found the back of the net. 

Halifax and Albany traded goals to end the first quarter courtesy of Wake:Riat BowHunter for Halifax and Connor Watkinson for Albany. 

Doug Jamieson stood on his head for Albany in the second quarter, making several great saves. The FireWolves answered with two goals from Justin Scott and John Piatelli. Chris Boushy was the only Thunderbird to score in the second. 

The FireWolves were buzzing to start the third quarter. They had some quality scoring chances but Hill kept Halifax in it, making many excellent saves including stopping Piatelli alone in the slot. But he couldn’t hold them off forever and Jackson Nishimura and Kieran McArdle scored to extend Albany’s lead to 6-3.

Halifax finally got on the board when Clarke Petterson found Austin Shanks with a cross-zone pass to make the game 4-2. 

Then the floodgates opened. Off the next face off, Eric Fannell took off with the ball down the right side and he ran right to the net to score. Thirty seconds later, Fannell received the ball in the slot, turned around, and scored to tie the game heading into the fourth quarter. 

“He (Fannell) is Mr. Clutch for us,” said Hill. “As long as he keeps doing that for us we have a chance to be in any game.” 

The Thunderbirds took a two-goal lead early in the fourth quarter, courtesy of their 25-year-old snipers Chris Boushy and Clarke Petterson, to make the game 8-6, adding to their five-goal run.

Later in the quarter, Fannell completed his hat trick and Colton Armstrong added another to give Halifax a 10-8 lead. 

But Kieran McArdle wouldn’t allow Albany to lose. He scored two goals in the quarter to put Albany down by one with 2:33 left. 

The FireWolves were buzzing, trying to get the tying goal but Hill was doing everything in his power to prevent it. However, Ethan Walker eventually broke through. He received the ball in the slot and shot it five-hole to score and send the game to overtime. 

Two minutes into overtime, Kieran McArdle ran into the right corner but quickly went back up and into the high slot. He fired it past Hill to win the game. 

This is another loss for Halifax against Albany. As a franchise, the Thunderbirds/Knighthawks have only won three out of 12 meetings against the FireWolves/Black Wolves franchise since 2017-18. 

“I think in sports, matchups don’t work in some team’s favour,” said Fannell. “They’re just a tough matchup for us. Work, work, work; they’re a bunch of hard workers and hats off to them for continuing to play hard. We just have to get off that mental block of ‘oh no it’s Albany’.” 

McArdle was the best player in the game but Doug Jamieson was excellent as well for Albany stopping 53/63 shots. 

For Halifax, their best players were Fannell with a hat trick, Hill stopping 40/51 shots and Jake Withers who won 24/25 draws and was tied with Ryan Terefenko with a game high 15 loose balls. 

The FireWolves improve to 2-2 and play next Saturday at home against the New York Riptide. After this one, Halifax dropped to 3-2 and then had to catch a 7:00 a.m. the flight to play the Toronto Rock the next night, another game which they lost, 17-8.