Massimo Rizzo (in white) has yet to hit the ice for a ‘real’ game in a Chilliwack Chiefs uniform, and hopes to get the season started soon after Feb. 5. (Darren Francis photo)

Massimo Rizzo (in white) has yet to hit the ice for a ‘real’ game in a Chilliwack Chiefs uniform, and hopes to get the season started soon after Feb. 5. (Darren Francis photo)

Chilliwack Chief Massimo Rizzo commits to Denver Pioneers

Rizzo finds a new NCAA home after de-committing to the University of North Dakota

It’s been a few anxious months for Chilliwack Chiefs forward Massimo Rizzo, but a weight is off his shoulders with a commitment to Denver University.

The 19 year old made the bold decision to walk away from a commitment to the University of North Dakota in early July, believing he could play his way into a better situation. Then COVID hit, messing with the 2020-21 season in ways Rizzo could never have imagined.

“Honestly, it was a bit of a roller coaster of emotions after de-commiting,” the Burnaby product admitted. “Coming to Chilliwack expecting to play games, and then being unable to showcase myself, there was a lot of wondering what’s going to happen.

RELATED: Chilliwack Chiefs land potential game changer in Massimo Rizzo deal

“But having the help of Brian (Chiefs hockey boss Maloney) and being in a good league like the BCHL, I was fortunate to get this (Denver) done. It’s a big relief.”

Rizzo said there was never any second guessing his decision, no ‘what have I done’ moments.

“I think it was the right thing for me, so there wasn’t any of that,” he said. “But every time the season was pushed back, it was stressful and it has been frustrating.”

While Rizzo talks about desperately wanting to play games, the COVID-necessitated program the Chiefs have installed has been a blessing in disguise.

RELATED: Chilliwack Chiefs acquire Massimo Rizzo from Coquitlam Express

“Personally, I’ve missed the last couple of offseasons rehabbing injuries, so to have this much extra time in the gym, it’s definitely allowed me to put on weight and get stronger,” said Rizzo, who believes (hopes) he’s added 3-5 pounds of muscle mass. “Being on the ice as much as we have been lets us work on little things, and overall we can push our bodies harder because we’re not trying to manage it for Wednesday-Friday-Saturday games like we would during a normal season.”

Rizzo has watched several teammates leave lately. Forwards Tommy Lyons, Kienan Draper, Frankie Carogioello and Ayrton Marino and defencemen Luke Krys and Hudson Thorton departed for the USHL because they believed they needed to play games to develop.

Rizzo said he can see where they’re coming from, but what he’s doing is working for him.

“My body feels great. I feel better. I’m skating faster and feeling stronger and I can see my progress,” he said. “Every hockey player loves playing games. That’s why we play, so I can kind of see things from their perspective. But everyone’s situation and mindset is a little different, and for me, I love our program and our coaches and I’ve been benefitting a lot from that.”

Rizzo hopes to get some game action after Feb. 5 when, hopefully, provincial health orders relax.

“There’s going to be an adjustment period,” he said. “We’re pushing ourselves hard in practice to get as close as we can to game pace, but obviously being in a game against another team is a little different.

“But if we continue what we’re doing, it’ll make it easier to adjust.”

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Chilliwack Chiefshockey

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Two ejected from single vehicle crash in Seabird Island

Landing zone for medevac has been requested

(File photo)
Semi truck and car collide on Highway 1 near Popkum

Slow lane eastbound is now closed as crews wait for tow trucks

Treeplanters from Shakti Reforestation are adding to the forests of Mount Thom Park. (City of Chilliwack)
Treeplanting project in Mount Thom Park will keep Chilliwack forest resilient

So far they’ve planted 2,000 of 80,000 trees planned for popular park on Promontory

Fire damage is seen in the windows of an apartment on Yale Road on April 21, 2021 following a fire there the night before. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Chilliwack Fire Dept. reminds people again to have working smoke alarms following 2nd blaze in 2 days

All six halls responded to bedroom fire in apartment on Yale Road above restaurant in Chilliwack

Bert Brink Wildlife Management Area was the site of illegally dumped drywall reported on April 19, 2021. (Michael Hill photo)
Another cache of dumped drywall in Chilliwack prompts suggestion to block access

Pile of drywall likely asbestos containing discarded in wildlife management area

A large crowd protested against COVID-19 measures at Sunset Beach in Vancouver on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (Snapchat)
VIDEO: Large, police-patrolled crowds gather at Vancouver beach for COVID protests

Vancouver police said they patrolled the area and monitored all gatherings

Thousands have converged in Whonnock Lake Park to enjoy the nice weather. (Roxanne Hooper/The News)
Thousands enjoy B.C. park with warnings about social distancing

Portable toilets installed in anticipation of nice weather

FILE – The Instagram app is shown on an iPhone in Toronto on Monday, March 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
Judge acquits B.C. teen boy ‘set up’ on sex assault charge based on Instagram messages

The girl and her friends did not have ‘good intentions’ towards the accused, judge says

Kai Palkeinen recently helped a car stuck on the riverbed near the Big Eddy Bridge. While the car could not be saved, some of the driver’s belongings were. It’s common for vehicles to get stuck in the area due to significantly changing river levels from Revelstoke Dam. (Photo by Kai Palkeinen)
“I just sank a car’: Revelstoke resident tries to save vehicle from the Columbia River

Although it’s not permitted, the riverbed near the city is popular for off roading

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Playland at the PNE is set to reopen this May, with COVID-19 health and safety measures approved by the province. (Website/Playland)
VIDEO: Playland at PNE scheduled to reopen this May to masked customers

British Columbians are discouraged from travelling outside of their local health authority to visit the theme park

Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei, walks down the street with an acquaintance after leaving B.C. Supreme Court during a lunch break at her extradition hearing, in Vancouver, B.C., Thursday, April 1, 2021. A judge is scheduled to release her decision today on a request to delay the final leg of hearings in Meng Wanzhou’s extradition case. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rich Lam
B.C. judge grants Meng Wanzhou’s request to delay extradition hearings

Lawyers for Canada’s attorney general had argued there is no justification to delay proceedings in the case

B.C. Premier John Horgan announces travel restrictions between the province’s regional health authorities at the legislature, April 19, 2021. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. sees 862 more COVID-19 cases Wednesday, seven deaths

Recreational travel restrictions set to begin Friday

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson is photographed following her budget speech in the legislative assembly at the provincial legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. budget lacks innovative drive, vision during uncertain times, say experts

Finance Minister Selina Robinson’s budget sets out to spend $8.7 billion over three years on infrastructure

Most Read