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Top Flyers Prospect Still Managing Injury from NCAA Season

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(Photo: AP)

At first, there was a lot of excitement and buzz generated when the Philadelphia Flyers signed former University of Denver star Massimo Rizzo to an amateur tryout on April 20. The problem? Rizzo never appeared in a game in the AHL for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms after signing the ATO.

The 23-year-old forward suffered an undisclosed injury on Feb. 3 after a 7-2 loss to the University of Western Michigan, and that kept him out well into the NCAA Frozen Four tournament. Rizzo did play in Denver’s final two games and helped his team claim an NCAA title over Cutter Gauthier and Boston College, but did not record any points across those two games.

The Flyers prospect was, apparently, being afflicted by a high-ankle sprain, and it’s something he’s still managing as the Flyers’ development camp takes place this week.

In an exclusive interview with Philly Hockey Now at the end of June, Flyers General Manager Danny Briere said that the Flyers “. . . wanted to see him play. He had the injury down the stretch, then came back and played in the Frozen Four because he wanted to play. But, probably pushed him back in terms of playing and starting his pro career with that, unfortunately.”

Former defenseman Nick Schultz, the team’s Assistant Director of Player Development, revealed the nature of Rizzo’s injury on Wednesday and gave a little insight as to what this week holds for the youngster.

“So, he had an injury at the later part of his season there with Denver. He was dealing with a high-ankle sprain. Kind of played through it, came back, then re-injured it,” Schultz said. “He obviously played in the championship in the Frozen Four when they won it. Came to Lehigh after that, and same thing. He’s been back skating, he’s completely healthy and fine, but right now, for development camp, to have him go through drills and practice, we want him to be ready for the start of the season, so it just doesn’t make sense.

“He should be out here with the forward group now, so he’s just going to not do the practice sessions and he won’t do the scrimmage. So, just going to have him around the camp and stuff and doing the forward group stuff, but not the practice or the game.”

Rizzo signed a two-year, entry-level contract with the Flyers on April 17, which starts with the upcoming 2024-25 season. The Burnaby, British Columbia native scored 10 goals, 34 assists, and 44 points in 30 games in his last collegiate season with Denver.

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