May 28, 2018
Massimo Rizzo, who was a first-round selection, 14th overall, in the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft, told the Kamloops Blazers prior to the 2018 bantam draft that he wouldn’t be playing for them.
On Saturday afternoon, Rizzo tweeted that he will attend the University of North Dakota and play for the Fighting Hawks, likely starting with the 2019-20 season.
Rizzo, from Burnaby, B.C., played last season with the BCHL’s Penticton Vees, putting up 38 points, including 13 goals, in his 16-year-old season. He was named the Vees’ captain earlier this month. He will turn 17 on June 13.
Rizzo lead the BWC U18 team in 2016-2017, as a first year midget, putting up 12G-41A, 53 points in 28 games.
“It was a hard decision, especially being from Western Canada,” Rizzo told Brad Elliott Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald.
“Just seeing the success of players going through college and to the NHL, and feeling that I needed a bit more time to develop and grow and get stronger, and talking to people who went that route and the experience they had, that’s kind of why I decided to do it.”
According to Schlossman, Rizzo “chose UND over Denver, Wisconsin and Michigan.”
Rizzo will be the fourth recent Penticton captain to attend UND, following D Troy Stecher, F Tyson Jost and F Nick Jones.
Rizzo is the only one of the 21 first-round selections from the 2016 bantam draft not to sign with a WHL team.