Del Bianco Shuts the Door to Lead Adanacs to Minto Cup Championship
The Coquitlam Adanacs are the 2016 Minto Cup champions. A standout performance from goaltender Christian Del Bianco, who was named tournament MVP, helped guide them to a 6-5 overtime victory over the Orangeville Northmen in the deciding game of the best-of-five series.
Del Bianco, who played in the professional ranks with the NLL's Calgary Roughnecks this year, was far and above the best player on the floor. He turned away 60 shots and finished the tournament with a 5.49 GAA and .891 SV%.
While he made some unbelievable saves, his most talked about play will surely be the floor length shot that barely missed the empty Orangeville net in the dying seconds of regulation. It would have won his team the game.
When all was said and done, Del Bianco was recognized with the Jim McConaghy Memorial Award, which is presented to the Minto Cup's most valuable player.
"That goal would have been a nice little finish," said Adanacs assistant coach Kyle Sorensen. "He's one of the best goalies that I've ever been in front of. He's the MVP and he deserves to be."
The eventual game winning goal would come in the overtime period off the stick of his teammate Dereck Downs.
The Adanacs, who were playing in their sixth Minto Cup final in the past seven years, captured their second championship in franchise history. Their first came in 2010, a series they also won over Orangeville, which also marked the last time a B.C. based team won the cup.
"It's nice to finally get rewarded," added a proud Sorensen. "It's nice to see these guys with smiles on their faces and to know it's all worth it. It took every single one of them to win this Minto Cup."
An excited Del Bianco reflected on his team's accomplishment by saying "Obviously this evening we're gonna go have a good time with all the boys. After that I think it's gonna be a good few days for all of us. This is something that we've all been chasing, some guys for five years."
Coquitlam's Nicholas McNabb opened the scoring at 11:53 of the first period, which turned out to be the only goal of the frame. A melee ensued immediately afterwards when Jean-Luc Chetner was abruptly taken down by goaltender Nolan Clayton as he ran through the crease en route to celebrate with his teammate. The rest of the players on the floor joined in on the scrum, which resulted in eight minor penalties, four for each team.
The teams played 3-on-3 for several minutes, but neither was able to capitalize with the open space.
Orangeville dominated play for much of the period, firing 22 shots on net, but Del Bianco was up to the task, turning each and every one away. He did, however, get some help from his goal posts.
Matt Gilray came close to tying it up in the final minutes but rang two heavy shots off the iron, one of which got past Del Bianco but bounced out before crossing the line.
Right after the second period's opening face-off, Coquitlam's Reid Bowering scooped up an errant pass and ran the entire length of the floor with a defender draped all over him, firing one past the keeper on a great individual effort.
The Northmen cut into their opponent's 2-0 lead as Adam Charalambides, who is no stranger to the score sheet, snuck behind the defense and found some open space right along the crease, quickly burying a pass from Joel Tinney.
Thomas Hoggarth then slipped past two defenders and fired one past Del Bianco to tie things up at 2-2.
A few timely saves from goaltender Clayton, one on the penalty kill and one on an Adanacs last second chance, kept the score even heading into the final frame.
The final period was perhaps the most exciting of the series.
Tyler Pace broke the deadlock by sniping a shot off the crossbar that darted down past the goal line, however the Adanacs' lead was short-lived.
Matt Van Galen sniped a shot to the top corner. Teammate Hoggarth caught and deposited a rebound that ricocheted off the glass behind the net for his second of the game.
Pace replied with a highlight reel goal to tie things up, blindly throwing the ball over his back while lying on the floor, then Dennon Armstrong scored off a rebound to put the Adanacs back in front.
Van Galen beat Del Bianco top corner with 1:33 remaining in the game, a carbon copy of his goal earlier in the period, tying things up at 5-5.
And the dramatics were far from over.
Orangeville called a timeout with under 30 seconds remaining in regulation and drew up one final play. Once they gained the zone they made a few passes before firing a shot towards Del Bianco, who made the save then alertly launched the ball towards the empty net, missing by mere inches.
With that near miss, the Minto Cup would see its first overtime action of the tournament.
At the 6:28 mark of the 10-minute non sudden-death overtime period, Dereck Downs used the lane created from a teammate's screen and rifled one past Clayton.
The Northmen had a power play opportunity late in the frame, but Del Bianco made a desperation save with less than 30 seconds remaining to seal the game for the Adanacs.
Thursday, August 25 at 8:00PM PST (Coquitlam 3, Orangeville 2)
Friday, August 26 at 8:00PM PST (Coquitlam 6, Orangeville 9)
Saturday, August 27 at 8:00PM PST (Coquitlam 9, Orangeville 7)
Sunday, August 28 at 8:00PM PST (Coquitlam 5, Orangeville 6)
Monday, August 29 at 8:00PM PST (Coquitlam 6, Orangeville 5 - OT)