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Former UND commit Massimo Rizzo to re-open recruitment

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Massimo Rizzo skates in a game with the Coquitlam Express in the BCHL. Photo by Garrett James Photography.

Massimo Rizzo won't be coming to UND.

The former forward commit, who had been scheduled to arrive on campus this fall, has asked for his release from his Letter of Intent, two sources told the Herald.

UND felt the split was amicable and granted his release, according to the sources. That means Rizzo is back on the recruiting market. He will likely draw quite a bit of interest, considering not very many NHL draft picks are uncommitted.

Rizzo was picked in the seventh round, No. 216 overall, in the 2019 NHL Draft by the Carolina Hurricanes.

After the draft, Hurricanes director of player personnel Darren Yorke told the Herald: "We like the skill with Rizzo. It's a little unfortunate that he had the injury, but we felt that sort of was a benefit for us for him to be able to still be on the board in the seventh round. So, we feel that he can get healthy, he's going to a great college, and that can really help his development."

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Rizzo, a 19-year-old forward from Burnaby, B.C., originally committed to UND in May 2018 as a high-profile player out of the British Columbia Hockey League. Rizzo has played the last three seasons there, but has been hampered by injuries. He missed the start of the 2019-20 season as he recovered from surgery.

Rizzo tallied 19 goals and 44 points in 42 games for Coquitlam in 2019-20. Prior to that, he spent two seasons with the Penticton Vees and served as team captain in 2018-19.

It is unclear whether UND will add another player up front without Rizzo.

UND is still expected to bring in three forwards: Riese Gaber, Griffin Ness and Brendan Budy. It also will bring in four defensemen in Jake Sanderson, Tyler Kleven, Cooper Moore and Mitchell Miller.

The Fighting Hawks lost seven seniors off of last year's National Collegiate Hockey Conference Penrose Cup-winning team in forwards Zach Yon, Westin Michaud, Cole Smith, Dixon Bowen and Casey Johnson and defensemen Colton Poolman and Andrew Peski. UND also lost defenseman Jonny Tychonick, who transferred to Omaha.

Most of UND's players will be reporting to campus this week for summer classes.

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