Christian Del Bianco, Calgary Roughnecks roll Warriors in NLL rematch

Christian Del Bianco, Calgary Roughnecks roll Warriors in NLL rematch

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Forget the Vancouver Warriors.

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The Calgary Roughnecks are the true warriors just weeks after the start of the 2022-23 National Lacrosse League season.

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They’ve come to play, to fight and to take no prisoners on the ground, opening the campaign with two wins – the last a 14-5 clear Friday night win against the West Coast host Warriors.

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Buoyed by an amazing performance from goaltender Christian Del Bianco and a second straight 60-minute lacrosse game, the Roughnecks once again overcame their West Division rivals in a repeat of last Saturday’s triumph at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

“Solid team effort all round,” said Roughnecks GM Mike Board. “It started at the net where Delbs was sharp from the starting gun to the final buzzer. Big savings, timely savings throughout.”

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Del Bianco indeed proved perfect early on, stopping the first 19 shots at the net before the Warriors could crack his code and ending the game with a whopping 52 saves.

“I saw the ball pretty well — that’s always a positive,” Del Bianco told TSN. “But I think our team defense was really good. We wrapped it up and kept it outside. So overall I think it’s kind of a team win.”

Meanwhile, BC’s tender received plenty of support thanks to a variety of offensive plays by the Roughnecks, which yielded four goals from Haiden Dickson and seven points from Tyler Pace.

“It was good to see Haiden Dickson score some goals,” said Board. “Tyler Pace has had some great games and scored a few goals as well.”

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Cross-court passes helped visitors score goals, as did production in transition and good old-fashioned shots from the eye.

It was sophomore Tanner Cook who picked up where he left off in the last game as he scored the opening goal on the power play after just over five minutes from a well-timed feed of pace.

Veteran Pace was back at it just half a minute later when he lined up Captain Jesse King for the second Riggers marker.

Another sophomore talent, Kyle Waters, made the 3-0 roughnecks before the end of the first quarter.

It was similar in the second frame, with three more goals to chase down Warriors starting goalie Steve Fryer. The first came on a hot shot from Dickson after an assist from Dan Taylor. Then came two transition goals – one from Shane Simpson on a dip and dunk to convert a two-for-one with Harrison Matsuoka and the other from newcomer Jeff Cornwall after slipping into the slot and another had taken a nice pass from Pace.

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“It’s great that we’re involved on the backend,” Simpson told TSN. “That’s pretty much what we expect from our guys there. We’ll keep trying to push the ball.”

With Aden Walsh in place of Fryer, Warriors star Mitch Jones eventually beat Del Bianco to burst his shutout bubble, but Dickson – with arguably the finest goal of the game when he converted King’s pass nearby – and Zach Herreweyers responded with goals for the ruffians against the new goalie. Walsh actually lost control of the ball to allow Herreweyers to get the ball unchallenged and hit into an open net to give the visiting side a commanding 8-1 half-time lead.

It was more of the same in the second half, as Simpson scored himself on another dip and dunk in the transition – to make it 9-1 for the visitors – and Dickson scored two more goals – both on the fourth-quarter power play, and both on Assists courtesy of Pace.

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And Pace decided to score, scoring two man-advantage markers just 37 seconds apart in the third quarter. The first was a perfect shot from the whistle while the second was a matter of beauty behind the door with a sweet feed from Taylor.

Herreweyers also scored his second goal of the night when he deflected a shot through the Walsh gate from not too far.

“Offensively there was a lot of input,” Board said. “Nine different players hit the net and we scored in all situations – even in strength, overpowering and transitioning.”

With the win, they zoomed into a 2-0 start to the season while putting the Warriors in a sizeable 0-3 hole to open the campaign.

“We knew what we were in for in this matchup,” Simpson told TSN. “Coming into training camp we knew we were going to be the toughest work group – think fast – and we’ll just keep doing that.”

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Next up for the Riggers is a December 30 tilt against the visiting San Diego Seals at WestJet Field in the Saddledome (7:00 p.m. TSN).


Waters moved into the Roughnecks’ lineup on Friday for fellow forward Brett Hickey, who was also a forward along with 2022 draft pick Seth Van Schepen … Taylor scored his 100th career NLL assist on Dickson’s first goal … Roughnecks D Curtis Manning was at the receiving end of another dirty hit for the second game in a row. This time, for the Warriors, it was former Roughnecks superstar and two-time NLL MVP Shawn Evans who equalized the old veteran late in the match after the whistle… Friday’s Week 3 NLL roster also includes a visit to Panther City Lacrosse clubs (1-0). the Las Vegas Desert Dogs (0-1)… The other Week 3 games all take place on Saturday before the Christmas break begins: the Buffalo Bandits (0-1) at the Toronto Rock (1-1); the Rochester Knighthawks (2-0) at the Albany FireWolves (1-0), the Philadelphia Wings (0-1) at Georgia Swarm (0-1); the Halifax Thunderbirds (1-0) at the New York Riptide (0-1); and the Colorado Mammoth (0-1) at Panther City in Fort Worth, Texas.

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