For Andrew Kew, these are much different times than two years ago and even just a year ago.
Two years ago, the Oakville, Ontario native was playing for the New England Black Wolves in his rookie National Lacrosse League season, a campaign that was cut short because of the COVID-19 pandemic. A year ago, the pandemic forced the cancellation of the 2020-21 season so Kew had to wait a little bit longer for his second NLL campaign.
And now this season, Kew is back on the field playing the game that he loves but the franchise is now the Albany FireWolves having relocated from New England to the capital of New York State.
“I think it’s been good,” said Kew. “The city has welcomed us and it’s a pretty cool lacrosse town. They’ve got a lot going on there in the minor system and for youth kids. Last game against the Bandits, we had our biggest crowd yet. We’re hoping that it continues to grow and we can continue to put a good product on the field and that people will want to come see us.”
Kew and the FireWolves are 5-7 heading into Friday night’s game in Halifax (6pm ET ESPN+) and are coming off of a heartbreaking 12-11 overtime loss at home to Buffalo this past Saturday. Of their seven losses this season, three have come by one goal and two have been by two goals.
In New England during the 2019-20 season, Kew and the BlackWolves were a NLL best 8-3 before the rest of the season was called off. This season, some of those tight games have not gone their way.
“We’ve been in some close games and we haven’t been able to finish,” said Kew. “I think we had a couple of guys come in. e added (forward Ryan) Benesch which was a huge pickup for us. Just finding chemistry still. We only play (18) games so we gotta find that chemistry really quick and you only practice once a week if at all.”
During his rookie season in 2019-20, Kew was third on the team in scoring with 43 points on 15 goals and 28 assists in 10 games. This season, Kew has 20 goals and 19 assists for 39 points in 10 games as he continues to grow in the box game while learning from some terrific players like NLL leading scorer Joe Resetarits, Reilly O’Connor and now Ryan Benesch.
“I’ve been lucky enough to play on this team,” said the third overall pick in the 2019 NLL Draft. “We have a great group. Being (my) second year, I can learn from those guys because they have a lot of experience and it’s also awesome to play with them because they’re phenomenal and I think they elevate my game. Hopefully I can continue to get better and improve on my game from what it’s been.”
Kew graduated from the University of Tampa with a degree in Business Administration and is still there finishing up his Master’s Degree. It was at Tampa where Kew briefly played with Dan Soviero who is the Founder and CEO of Signature Lacrosse, a lacrosse apparel company that has established a mission statement “To revolutionize the landscape of lacrosse by dynamically propelling the progression of the equipment, the athletes, and the experience of the sport.”
Kew is now part of the Signature Lacrosse family.
“(Dan has) done a really good job growing that business from not only the balls and that side of things but now they’re branching out,” said Kew. “They’re doing a bunch of exciting things and I’m proud to be a part of it.”
And later this month, Kew will be heavily involved in launchinig a Pro Line with Signature at the end of the month.
That degree in Business Administration is really coming in handy.
“It’s going to be higher-end athletic wear and it’s going to be something that they haven’t done before but something that’s going to be pretty cool so I’m excited about it,” said Kew.
“I think that having that business background as well is important in case I do want to get into the business side of things within our game and I think it really helps with certain things when it comes to a company like Signature Lacrosse and how they operate.”
While Kew is working hard to finish up his Master’s Degree at Tampa and enjoying his relationship with Signature Lacrosse, he’s also focused on helping the Albany FireWolves make a push for the playoffs. With six games remaining and right now on the outside looking in as far as the playoffs are concerned, Kew and the FireWolves are confident that they’ll be able to find their way into the postseason and compete for a championship.
Two years ago in New England, this group was on their way to doing just that when the pandemic arrived so there’s a bit of unfinished business to take care of now in Albany.
“We feel like we’re starting to click,” said Kew. “We’re just looking to put it all together and play sixty minutes. We can’t take any shifts off because in this league with the parity you can’t. We’re just hoping to start to go on a run.”
For Andrew Kew and the Albany FireWolves, that potential run starts on Friday night in Halifax and they’re hoping to roll some momentum into their next home game next Saturday March 19th against Georgia.
Kew and company are looking to make a “Signature” statement to the NLL as the 2021-22 season winds down.