We are continuing our series of prospect interviews at Calm Before the Storm with an interview with Massimo Rizzo! Rizzo was the Hurricanes’ seventh round pick in 2019, drafted 216th overall. Rizzo currently plays for the Coquitlam Express in the BCHL, where he is currently playing in his third full BCHL season. Two of those seasons were with the Penticton Vees, where he was the captain and a teammate of Hurricanes prospect Jack Lafontaine in his second season with the Vees. The center prospect currently has seven points, five of which are assists, in eight games for the Express. Rizzo is committed to the University of North Dakota and will be playing for the Fighting Hawks in the fall of 2020.
The result may not have been the one your team wanted, but your season debut was still a big story. How did it feel to get back on the ice after missing some time due to injury?
I obviously would have liked to get a win in my first game back, especially because the team was on a 5 game winning streak, but we played really well and just didn’t get the result we wanted. It was such an amazing feeling to get back on the ice and into a game after missing all that time. I couldn’t sleep that whole week because I was just too excited get back to playing again. I remember the first period my shifts were at least a minute long but I was having so much fun I just wanted to be out there as much as possible.
Where were you when you found out that the Hurricanes had drafted you? Could you describe that feeling?
I was at home sitting in the living room with my family and one of my best friends when I found out I was drafted. It was a surreal feeling. As a kid you dream about getting drafted and to have it happen was a pretty special moment. Obviously you dream about going as high as possible, but with everything that’s happened the last couple years, I was super grateful that Carolina took a chance on me.
Editor’s note: Rizzo had missed time due to injury throughout his BCHL career. He underwent surgery this summer to help prevent further injuries from occurring.
Could you describe your style of play?
My style of play is a 200 ft player who works in both ends of the ice. I try to be creative and offensive and use my vision as much as I can. I enjoy setting my teammates up but also love scoring goals.
What are some things that you like to do when you are not playing hockey? Any fun hobbies?
When I’m not playing hockey I enjoy spending time with my buddies. I’m a big fan of anything outdoors, I like hiking or swimming or playing other sports. I enjoy relaxing days on the beach or at the lake.
Do you have any hidden talents?
I don’t think I really have any hidden talents but I can juggle a soccer ball pretty well and I used to be good at drawing.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
The best advice I’ve been given is just to trust in myself and be who I am.
Who was your favorite hockey player to watch growing up?
My favourite hockey player to watch was Pavel Datsyuk because how magical he was with the puck. The way he embarrassed defenders and created time and space was incredible. He had such good vision and IQ but knew how to play the game at both ends of the ice.
What are some short-term and long-term goals that you’ve set for yourself?
My short term goals are just to get better every day. This year I really want to focus on getting better on every area of my game and take it one step at a time. The better I get the more it will help my team, and my goal is to win a National Championship this year in Coquitlam. Long term I’d like to go into North Dakota next season and have an immediate impact with the team and in the league. The goal is to take the time at the North Dakota that I need and when I’m ready I want to have a successful career in the NHL.
If you had to pick one song to be your goal song, what would it be?
I think Chelsea Dagger is a great song so I’d probably go with that.
Thank you to Massimo Rizzo and the Coquitlam Express organization for the interview! Be sure to catch all Express games on HockeyTV this season!