It’s not redemption.
But it’s a start.
Goaltender Christian Del Bianco played excellent for the Roughnecks in a relief effort late in 11-7 loss to the Toronto Rock.
It was his first sustained action since the team’s home-opener, where he gave up seven goals on 18 shots to the Vancouver Stealth. He was forced into the starting goaltender role with Frank Scigliano in the press box due to a suspension.
Not his best performance.
Or the type of performance that the Roughnecks know he can bring.
“It was a one off. We knew it would be with Christian,” coach Curt Malawsky said adamantly. “He’s a great goaltender, he a Minto Cup MVP, and he’s been dying to get back in the net.”
When he was called upon this past weekend, he was prepared and ready to redeem himself and show the team and the fans why he had been a second-round draft pick (15th overall) in 2015 and why many consider him the team’s goaltender of the future.
“It was good to get back in but we didn’t get the result we wanted, so I just learned from it,” Del Bianco explained. “Get your confidence back, get moving. But like I said, we didn’t get the result, so we just have to learn from it.”
He played just under 15 minutes after replacing Scigliano to start the fourth quarter Sunday against the Rock. In between sprinting from the crease to the bench for the team to get an extra attacker on late, the talented youngster made eight stops, including a few great saves to keep the Riggers within striking distance.
“I think as a smaller goalie, that’s the only benefit we really have of being small, it’s a bit easier,” Del Bianco said of running back and forth. “I don’t think it really affects you, it’s just a bit different.”
“He’s good at running up and down the floor and he made some huge saves for us,” said Malawsky.
This save chief among them.
“Honestly, it was an instincts kind of thing,” said Del Bianco laughing it off. “I was running as hard as I can and was lucky enough that the ball hit me. That’s all it was.”
That save came mid-way through the fourth quarter, right when the Roughnecks were trying to close the five-goal gap between them and the Rock.
Del Bianco sent a spark into the crowd and that roar lit a fire under the Calgary offence, who rattled off two quick goals to bring the game within three.
“As a second-string goalie, that’s something you always want to do,” Del Bianco said, about providing that spark off the bench. “Guys like Frank, you want to pull through for him there, I don’t think he played bad, but was a victim of the circumstances. It sucks we didn’t pull it through for him.”
Unfortunately, the Riggers couldn’t execute on their chances to inch closer in the game and would give up an empty netter en route to a disappointing loss.
While Del Bianco was not satisfied with the outcome, it was a fantastic opportunity for him to get back into the net, find his groove, and get his mojo back. That was part of the reason Malawsky brought him into the game and left him in there for the final frame.
“We just knew it was a matter of time, once he got himself back in the net he would be comfortable again,” stated Malawsky. “We still have the utmost confidence in him and I think he showed that he can play in this league in the short period of time he was in there.”