YORKTON - Calgary Roughnecks netminder Christian Del Bianco has grabbed two major season-end awards from the National Lacrosse League.
The first award saw Del Bianco take home his first Goaltender of the Year trophy earning the award ahead of Nick Rose and Matt Vinc. He is also the first Calgary goaltender to win the award since Mike Poulin in 2012.
Certainly Del Bianco put together an outstanding season with the best save percentage among goalies with at least 120 minutes played and finished fourth in total saves. His 9.28 goals against average was second to Nick Rose, the only two players with a sub-10 goals against average.
With Del Bianco in net, he helped lead Calgary to a franchise best 13-5 record, playing a league record 1080:19 minutes between the pipes, noted an NLL release.
“Obviously the award means alot with how many great goalies we have in the league-- how many big names have won it in years past so it’s definitely something years from now I will look back on and really appreciate,” Del Bianco told Yorkton This Week.
The award is at least in part about resiliency at a position where goals will be scored on the netminder.
“I think personally, something I pride myself on is being able to play out of a rut -- bounce back when stuff isn’t going great for me,” said Del Bianco. “With so many great players in the league you're bound to have off nights or slow starts and I think the best guys are able to maintain confidence and play through it.”
Then Del Bianco became the first netminder since 2006, to be presented the league’s MVP award. He becomes just the second goaltender to ever win the MVP award (Steve Dietrich, 2006) and third non-forward to win the award since its inception in 1994, (Jeff Shattler, transition, 2011).
According to an NLL release Del Bianco set a record with 1,080:19 minutes played this. He is the fourth Roughneck to win the MVP, the first since Dane Dobbie in 2019. He edged out other finalists, Dhane Smith, who won the MVP award last season and sophomore standout and NLL leading scorer, Jeff Teat.
“It’s crazy to think that I'm only the second goalie but I'm glad that people see the impact and value goaltenders have on the game,” said Del Bianco. “It’s a huge honour when the other two finalists were players like Dhane (Smith), who could win it almost every year and a guy like Teater, (Jeff Teat), who has already established himself as one of the best in only his second year in the league.”
Del Bianco was also quick to share the award with teammates.
“I think it’s really a byproduct of the guys around me also having success without guys like (Shane) Simpson and, (Josh) Currier have crazy years in transition I don't have as many assists, (19), as I did and without defenders like (Eli) Salama, (Jeff) Cornwall, (Curtis) Manning, (Liam) Leclair locking down other teams best players I wouldn't have has the season I did stopping the ball.”
But the awards are not likely to change how Del Bianco approaches what he does.
“One award doesn't change who you are on the day-to-day,” he said. “I'm not a crazy vocal guy but I think our dressing room has so many quality people who lead by work ethic and showing how invested they are in the team’s success.”
And it is team success Del Bianco hopes for next season.
“I think we have to build off the foundation we established this past season and keep improving as a whole,” he said. “I think we have the answers within the dressing room so the first step is getting everyone back and then just continuing to put in the sweat equity.
“Nothing’s ever a guarantee with so many great teams but I have 100 per cent confidence that we will put in the work to reach this teams full potential.”