A top BCHL prospect is following in familiar footsteps. The Penticton Vees announced today that Massimo Rizzo has committed to join the University of North Dakota for the 2019-20 season, extending a trend of Penticton captains continuing their development with the Fighting Hawks. Rizzo was given the “C” for the Vees for the upcoming season earlier this month.
As a rookie last season, Rizzo turned heads with his impressive performance. The 16-year-old finished fourth on the team in scoring with 39 points in 50 games and then really held his own in the postseason with another ten points. The speedy forward showed good balance to his game and the potential to improve into a game-changing talent. His promotion to captain at such a young age also speaks to his leadership and locker room presence. Rizzo also performed well for Team Canada at the U-17 World Championships where he was again fourth in team scoring with four points in five games. As the Junior-A level in Canada continues to gain more recognition, Rizzo could be the next big name to trace his roots back to the BCHL.
Rizzo should take another step forward in Penticton next season before enrolling at North Dakota, where he will try to follow the path of several notable former Vees captains. Three recent Penticton captains have been recruited by the Fighting Hawks and have gone on to have great success in the college ranks and in the pros. Troy Stecher was a three-year star at UND before signing with the Vancouver Canucks and is now a top-four defenseman in the NHL. Tyson Jost was the tenth overall pick out of Penticton two years ago and showed his value in his one college season with more than a point per game with the Hawks. He then played a critical role in the re-emergence of the Colorado Avalanche this season. Finally, like Stecher, Nick Jones was a star with the Vees, but went undrafted; however he showed in his first year for North Dakota that he has the makings of a future pro. When Rizzo joins North Dakota in 2019, he’ll reunite with Jones and draft-eligible defenseman Jonny Tychonick on a team that will draw much of its strength from former Vees.