Pro Hockey News

Monday, May 22, 2023

NAL: Albany Empire Thrashed by Jacksonville Sharks; Coach Resigns

By Abigail Rubel

JACKSONVILLE (Albany Times Union) - The Albany Empire were outscored 44-13 in the second half and lost 79-34 at the Jacksonville Sharks on Saturday night.

The Empire (1-4) scored once in the third quarter on a kickoff return by Maurice Leggett and once in the fourth on a 3-yard rush by Malcom McCoy. 

Jacksonville (3-2) scored on all 10 drives, with the Albany defense unable to get a single stop.

“It was a poor performance all the way around. Coaching, playing. Everything wasn’t very good,” Albany coach Tom Menas said.

Menas, who won back-to-back titles in Albany, resigned on Monday.

Former Empire quarterback Sam Castronova made the most of playing the team that suspended and released him, completing 23 of his 26 passes for 282 yards and five touchdowns passing and a rushing for a touchdown before being pulled for the backup in the fourth quarter with the Sharks up 72-34. 

His first incompletion came with 14 seconds left in the first half.

National Arena League veteran Jonathan Bane, making his first start with the Empire, was 15-for-26 for 177 yards and two touchdowns with three interceptions.

By the end of the first quarter, the Sharks had already built a two-score lead on rushing touchdowns from Brian Smith, assisted by an Empire fumbled snap.

Bane started the second quarter with a touchdown pass to Daquan Patten, scrambling on 4th and 6 before finding the rookie wide receiver, and the Empire closed within seven again after wide receiver Fabian Guerra ended a penalty-laden drive with a 5-yard rushing touchdown.

Guerra led Albany with seven catches for 74 yards and a receiving touchdown and 191 kick return yards in addition to the scoring run. Ricky Wyatt had four carries for 25 yards.

Just before halftime, a Leggett pick was overturned due to fan interference, and Castronova threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Kamrin Solomon on the redo. Solomon had 11 catches for 140 yards and two scores.

The Empire offense didn’t see the field until the seven-minute mark of the third quarter, and the possession ended in Bane’s second interception, a pass that went off Guerra’s hands and into Jabari Gorman’s. Gorman led Jacksonville with seven tackles, two interceptions and two passes defended.

Bane’s third interception of the night came on his first throw of the fourth quarter. Defensive back Jenson Stoshak tipped the ball into the hands of defensive back Marquel Wade, another former Albany player, who took it into the end zone to give the Sharks a 63-28 lead. Wade also had six tackles at defensive back.

Defensive back Isaac James had a team-high six tackles for the Empire and had a 40-yard receiving touchdown.

Abigail Rubel covers UAlbany men’s and women’s basketball and other high school, college and professional sports. She also writes the Getting There column answering reader questions and covering local transportation issues. Abigail previously reported for the Voice of America and New York Family magazine. She graduated from Columbia University in 2019. You can reach her at