Pass-happy Roughnecks goalie provides latest obstacle for Warriors

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Bet Christian Del Bianco’s favorite football game is the long bomb touchdown pass.

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The 25-year-old goaltender from Coquitlam has regularly sent off his teammates on breakaways and other rush transition opportunities this National Lacrosse League season. He leads the Calgary Roughnecks (6-3) against the Vancouver Warriors (1-8) on Friday night at Rogers Arena with 15 assists.

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We’re halfway through the campaign. The record for assists in a season by a goaltender is 23, set by Erik Miller in 2003 and equaled by Pat O’Toole in 2007. Del Bianco’s season-high is 17, which he achieved in both 2018 and 2022.

Second place in the goalie assists chart so far this season belongs to Toronto Rock’s Nick Rose, who has three goalies. The goalies in the 15-team loop have a combined 41 assists, meaning Del Bianco has amassed 36.5 percent of the total.

“We’re in a situation where anyone on our back end can walk out onto the floor and be a threat,” said Del Bianco, who is currently eighth in the roughneck rankings and third on the team in assists. “Not to mention Shane Simpson, Zach Currier and Jeff Cornwall (particularly fast defenders) definitely help.”

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Vancouver has gone into rebuild mode for the season, ceding top-scorer Mitch Jones to the Philadelphia Wings for defenseman Steph Charbonneau and two draft picks, including a 2023 first-rounder.

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This is the third and final meeting between the clubs. Calgary won 11-9 at the Saddledome on December 10 and beat Vancouver 14-5 at Rogers Arena on December 16.

Friday is Pride Night for the Warriors. The Vancouver Pride Society and Qmunity will have information booths in the hall. There will be a performance by Hyaenas, an indie rock/synth-pop band who, according to their website, write their songs through a queer feminist lens.

The Warriors will also wear Pride-themed warm-up t-shirts and have rainbow ribbons on their sticks.

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