Massimo Rizzo in action for the Penticton Vees as an affiliate player against the Brooks Bandits during Western Canada Cup action at the South Okanagan Events Centre. The Vees announced on Tuesday that Rizzo will play for the team in 2017-18 B.C. Hockey League season. Steve Kidd/Western News

Rizzo picks Vees over Blazers

Massimo Rizzo has picked the Penticton Vees over the Kamloops Blazers to play junior hockey

Massimo Rizzo is coming back.

Rizzo has chosen to play for the Penticton Vees in the B.C. Hockey League over the Western Hockey League’s Kamloops Blazers. The Vees made the announcement on Tuesday.

The Burnaby product tallied 84 points in just 48 games for the Burnaby Winter Club Midget Prep team. Rizzo played in three regular season games with the Vees as an underage forward and affiliate player. In the Fred Page Cup playoffs, Rizzo scored his first BCHL goal, and really showed flashes of brilliance during the Western Canada Cup where he scored a goal and added four assists for five points in five games as the Vees advanced to the Royal Bank Cup in Cobourg Ontario.

Vees president, general manager, and head coach Fred Harbinson was pleased with the family’s decision.

“Although we gave Massimo and his family the appropriate time to make a decision as to which route they felt was best for his development; we’re excited he has chosen to continue his hockey career as a member of the Penticton Vees,” said Harbinson in a press release. “I look forward to coaching Massimo, and I’m certain Vees Nation is thrilled to be able to watch another elite prospect grow here in Penticton.”

Rizzo was originally drafted 14th overall in WHL Bantam Draft by the Kamloops Blazers. After meeting with Blazers brass last week, the family made the decision to return to the Vees and continue his development in the South Okanagan following the likes of Tyson Jost, Dante Fabbro, and most recently Johnny Tychonick.

“Talking to a variety of different people that have been involved in both leagues and the experiences they’ve gone through and looking at where he’s at, it keeps his development options open,” Rizzo’s father, Remi, told Kamloops This Week on Tuesday. “It really is no different than what we stated before the bantam draft, that Massimo is going to take it year by year and look at what the best options are the following season, developmentally for him and his growth.”

KTW reported that the Blazers had owner Tom Gaglardi, part-owner Shane Doan, general manager Stu MacGregor and head coach Don Hay meet with Rizzo and his father in Vancouver last week.

“I don’t think any doors have ever been closed,” Remi said. “If that was the case, it would have been a very short meeting with the boys last week.

“This is the right choice for this year and next year he re-evaluates what the best opportunity for development is then,” he continued.

Rizzo is one of 111 players, along with Vees teammate Luke Reid to be invited to attend the Hockey Canada U17 Development Camp in Calgary starting on July 22. Rizzo and the Vees will be back on the ice at the SOEC in late August to open training camp. Rizzo will wear No. 13 once the puck drops on the season.

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