CALGARY, AB — Last season, veteran Mike Poulin held control of the net for over 591 minutes.
With his departure to Georgia early in the off-season, the Calgary Roughnecks were left with a big void to fill between the pipes.
The recent release of goaltender Peter Dubenski left only two net minders on the roster.
Frank Scigliano and Christian Del Bianco.
Let’s take a closer look at their 2016 statistics: After being handed the starting job in 2016, Scigliano couldn’t get going early and was replaced by Poulin. The two would rotate in and out of the net for the rest of the season, but with the bulk of the playing time going to Poulin.
Scigliano rebounded by putting up a fantastic summer campaign for the Maple Ridge Burrards, in which he helped them win the Western Lacrosse Association Championship and advance to the Mann Cup. Despite losing to the Six Nations Chiefs, Scigliano was a shining star for the Burrards throughout the entire series.
Meanwhile, Del Bianco was doing even more impressive things in the BCJALL with the Coquitlam Junior Adanacs.
The youngster started 18 games and was flawless, winning all 18. That brings his three-year junior total to 34 wins and 0 losses in regular season games. He carries a 5.49 GAA and an .856 save percentage.
Del Bianco capped off a stellar season with an MVP performance to help the Adanacs win the Minto Cup.
Heading into 2017, it would seem that Frank Scigliano will be the defacto starter with Del Bianco taking a place on the bench as his back-up. Mostly due to the fact that Del Bianco has played all of 19 seconds in the league, while never having faced a shot.
However, based on his rock solid performance in the Christmas Showdown Exhibition game against the Saskatchewan Rush, Del Bianco is showing that he may be ready for prime time.
In that contest, Del Bianco played the entire first half and made numerous big saves to hold the Rush to just three goals. He didn’t look phased by the playing against the reigning champs or playing in front of 12,000 crazy Rush fans.
But it’s only pre-season action.
Del Bianco has yet to see even a full minute of NLL action in his career.
Scigliano has never played more than 734 minutes and likely won’t go significantly higher than that number in 2017. That means that Del Bianco will get to see a significant chunk of time on the floor this season.
But just how confident are the coaches in sending out a rookie to protect the crease?
“Well, I know how he’s going to respond. He’s met every challenge,” said coach Curt Malawsky of his young netminder. “He might not be great out of the gate but he will adapt.
“You take the age off him and I think he’s going to open some eyes across the NLL.
“With him and Frank, we’ve really got two quality young goaltenders here. It’s an exciting situation for everybody.”
Despite entering the season with the youngest goalie duo in the NLL, the Roughnecks look poised to have fantastic goaltending once again in 2017.