Rizzo gets release from University of North Dakota

Coquitlam Express forward Massimo Rizzo is on the market.

According to a report in the Grand Forks Herald, Rizzo has asked for a release from his commitment to attend the University of North Dakota beginning in September. It’s unclear what his plans are for the coming season. His Western Hockey League playing rights are held by the Kamloops Blazers, which selected him 15th overall in the 2016 bantam draft.

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Rizzo, who’s from Burnaby, scored 19 goals and 44 points for the Express last season, after he was acquired from the Penticton Vees last June, the day after he was drafted in the seventh round — 216th overall — by the Carolina Hurricanes in the NHL draft in Vancouver.

The 19-year-old was originally projected to be selected in the third to fifth round, but a back injury cost him 21 games and he finished his sophomore season in the BC Hockey League with 40 points in 37 games. After off-season back surgery to repair a torn hip muscle, Rizzo missed training camp and several early season games with the Express before joining the lineup and leading the team to the top regular season record.

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