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Record-breaking season for Coquitlam goaltender makes lacrosse history

Coquitlam's Christian Del Bianco is the 2022-23 National Lacrosse League (NLL) MVP, marking the second time in history a netminder has claimed the award.
Coquitlam's Christian Del Bianco was one of the best goaltenders in the National Lacrosse League (NLL) in the 2022-23 season. He's now made history with his MVP title.

Christian Del Bianco has written more history for the National Lacrosse League (NLL).

The Coquitlam goaltender's career season at the highest level of professional lacrosse the NLL's most valuable player award for the 2022-23 season.

This marks the second time in league history a netminder has turned enough heads to claim the honour, and the third non-forward to do so since the NLL's inception in 1994.

Del Bianco set new franchise records in the Calgary Roughnecks's latest campaign, including wins (13) and minutes played (1,080:19).

"[Del Bianco] had an outstanding year for us. There is no doubt that we would not have had the franchise record-setting, 13-win season we had without Christian," said Roughnecks head coach Curt Malawsky in a team release. 

"The confidence of our team was directly related to his play, night in and night out. In the most important position on the floor, he was our best player. That gave all of us trust and belief which is a true sign of an MVP."

Prior to the MVP honour, Del Bianco was also named the 2022-23 NLL goaltender of the year, as well as first-team all-league.

The 25-year-old Centennial Secondary alum tallied a career-best 19 assists, 9.28 goals-against average (GAA) and .810 save percentage (SV%) in 18 games this past regular season.

In the playoffs, Del Bianco started in all four games, finishing with a 2-2 record and a 9.25 GAA before Calgary was eliminated by the defending-champion Colorado Mammoth 2-1 in the best-of-three western conference final.

This completes his sixth full season with the Roughnecks, who drafted the backstopper 15th overall in the 2015 NLL Draft.

His historic MVP season may prove to be helpful in building his NLL stock as he has one season left on a two-year contract extension he signed with Calgary in November 2022.

Last year, Del Bianco helped his hometown Coquitlam Adanacs reach the Western Lacrosse Association (WLA) playoffs for the first time since 2013.

His efforts were granted MVP status in his first season with the B.C. senior 'A' division, which included a league-high 12 wins in 18 games and a .842 SV%.

He played five years in the BC Junior 'A' Lacrosse League (BCJALL) and led Coquitlam to three straight national championship finals, winning two of them in 2016 and 2018.

Del Bianco was named MVP in those consecutive years and was selected first overall in the 2019 WLA Draft by Coquitlam.

His senior 'A' draft year also courted time on the floor with Canada's national indoor lacrosse team that ultimately won world championship gold in Langley.

WLA, BCJALL updates

Meanwhile, the Coquitlam Sr. Adanacs kick off their 2023 season tonight (May 27) at home.

The purple and gold are set to face-off against the Nanaimo Timbermen, 7 p.m. at the Poirier Sports and Leisure Complex — the team that eliminated them in the postseason last year.

The Jr. A's are currently second in the BCJALL with a record of 6-2.

Coquitlam is two points back with a game at hand of the 7-2 Port Coquitlam Saints.

The Adanacs are in Delta tonight to take on the Islanders at 7 p.m. from the Ladner Leisure Centre.

The Saints, on a strong resurgence from a 1-13 season last year, have a week off until their next match on Friday (June 2), 7 p.m. in Coquitlam.