By Steve EwenSpecial to the Langley Advance
The Langley-based Vancouver Stealth could be facing a depleted Calgary Roughnecks roster on opening night.
The Roughnecks’ starting goalie Frankie Scigliano and defender Greg Harnett, as well as Calgary practice roster defender Garret McIntosh, were all handed one game suspensions by the National Lacrosse League head office for their role in a line brawl during a Dec. 16 pre-season game against the Saskatchewan Rush in Saskatoon.
Vancouver opens the regular season on Jan. 6 in Calgary. The Stealth home opener is Jan. 14, against those same Roughnecks at the Langley Events Centre.
The Stealth and Roughnecks split their four games last season. Calgary (8-10) beat out Vancouver (5-13) for the third and final playoff spot in the West Division.
The Professional Lacrosse Players Association can appeal the suspensions to an independent arbitrator, which at worst would grant Scigliano and the others a one-week reprieve and make them eligible to play in the Jan. 6 game.
If the PLPA loses the arbitration, the suspension would kick in the following week. The PLPA has won appeals in the past, although it’s difficult to come up with exact numbers on how many.
The PLPA pays the arbitration fee if it loses. It can be $1,000 or more.
Appeals usually centre on how rules were interpreted. Scigliano and Saskatchewan goalie Aaron Bold got in a scrap at centre after another fight had already started.
Bold and Saskatchewan forward Ben McIntosh each received onegame suspensions from the league as well.
Scigliano, 24, a Coquitlam native, was the star of the Maple Ridge Burrards’ run to the Mann Cup Senior A club national championship this summer and took over the Calgary starting job midway through last season from veteran Mike Poulin. Poulin, 31, jumped to the Georgia Swarm as a free agent in the off-season, turning over the Calgary backup duties to highly touted youngster Christian Del Bianco, 19.
Del Bianco could be the youngest regular in the nine-team NLL this season. He has two more summers of junior lacrosse remaining.
Del Bianco, a Coquitlam native who stole the show at the Minto Cup at the LEC last summer en route to the Coquitlam Adanacs capturing the Junior A club national championship, has just 19 seconds of NLL regular-season play under his belt.
The NLL opens it regular season on Thursday, with the Toronto Rock visiting the Rochester Knighthawks. The Colorado Mammoth are at the Buffalo Bandits on Friday.
The Stealth visit the Mammoth on Jan. 7.
Vancouver moved to the LEC from Everett, Wash., prior to the 2014 campaign.
The Stealth have missed the playoffs in all three seasons since the transfer.
– Steve Ewen is with the Vancouver Sun
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