The Victoria Shamrocks (9-3) will face perhaps the best goaltender in the sport tonight, Chris Del Bianco, when they meet the Coquitlam Adanacs (10-4) in a key Western Lacrosse Association game at The Q Centre.
“They are a great team with a great goaltender,” said Shamrocks head coach Mike Simpson.
“[Del Bianco] gives them a chance to win every night. You have done well to get 10 goals on him. That’s the baseline you go by against him.”
Del Bianco, a pro with the Calgary Roughnecks during the NLL season, leads the WLA this season in all goaltending categories, including an 8.58 goals-against average, .846 save percentage, 620 saves and 10 wins.
“Del Bianco is the best player on that team. It comes down to how well we shoot the ball,” said Victoria sniper Marshal King.
“A finishing touch is important when playing him.”
The Shamrocks will then play the Nanaimo Timbermen (10-6) on Saturday night at Frank Crane Arena in the Harbour City to close out what Simpson describes at the “most significant weekend of the year.”
Meanwhile, over their seven-decade plus history, there has been an uncanny number of Shamrocks players who have been firefighters or policemen. It’s perhaps not surprising since the sport and those professions require a degree of physical fitness and strength.
“Those jobs lend themselves to sports like lacrosse. Both require teamwork and trust in the person beside you,” said Shamrocks bench-boss Simpson, a former Shamrocks player, who in his civilian career is Assistant Chief for Fire Prevention with the Saanich Fire Department.
It adds more of a connection to tonight’s Stronger Together pre-game tribute and fund-raising effort for the six Victoria and Saanich police officers shot during the recent bank robbery in Saanich.
“We in the fire department work side-by-side with Saanich Police, so this is a special night,” said Simpson.
Saanich Police Chief Dean Duthie and VicPD Chief Del Manak will take part in a ceremonial faceoff before the game. Joining them will be the colour guard from both departments and the Red Serge from Westshore RCMP.
“The Saanich Police Department continues to move forward along the road of recovery and healing, which is heavily fuelled by community support,” said Duthie, in a statement.
“Our officers, civilian staff, and volunteers are deeply inspired by this support, and we are so grateful to the Victoria Shamrocks for taking a moment to recognize the heroism and bravery of our police.”