Darren Rizzolo (right) works to keep the puck in play during a preseason game against the Cowichan Valley Capitals on Wednesday, Aug. 29. (Elena Rardon/Alberni Valley Times)

Salmon Arm Silverbacks acquire veteran defenceman Darren Rizzolo

Ethan McLaughlin traded to Alberni Valley Bulldogs in return

The Salmon Arm Silverbacks have added some new defensive talent to the bench with their latest trade, swapping rookie defenceman Ethan McLaughlin for veteran skater Darren Rizzolo, formerly of the Alberni Valley Bulldogs.

Rizzolo has three seasons in the BCHL under his belt, and this one will be his last in the league. So far this season with the Bulldogs, he has put up one goal and 10 assists. He is not a total stranger to the area, having played with the Vernon Vipers in the past, and is excited to join the Silverbacks and return to playing in one of the toughest divisions in the BCHL.

“The teammates here are really good, I met them all today, and it’s a nice place to live. I knew Andy Stevens and Sol Seibel from before, and as soon as they found out they contacted me and they were really welcoming, everybody was. It’s been great so far,” Rizzolo says. “I used to play in Vernon and the Interior, and I know the division is a lot tougher. I want to get used to that again, everything on the hockey side is looking good and I am really glad to join a winning team.”

Related: Silverbacks’ Matthew Verboon reflects on experience at World Juniors

Rizzolo says he was looking for a change of pace this season, opting to be put up for trade.

“I just wanted a change, it was my decision. I felt like things were kind of stagnating there, it was my third year there and I just wanted a change. I wanted to join a team that is used to winning,” he says.

The Silverbacks’ coaching staff made the call to trade McLaughlin, who is in his rookie year, for Rizzolo in order to bolster their defensive line even further. Silverbacks head coach and GM Scott Atkinson says it was a difficult decision.

“Ethan is an outstanding individual and a young player with a bright future in this league, and we wish him nothing but the best in the future. In Rizzolo we are acquiring an experienced BCHL defenceman who can contribute in all facets of the game.”

Rizzolo hopes he can contribute however he is needed, and is confident he has a well-rounded skill set.

“I’m just looking to bring out anything they need. I am a pretty well-rounded defenceman; I can do power-plays, I can provide offence, but I like to kill penalties and I can provide that too. We have a really good defensive-core here,” Rizzolo says. “I am not exactly sure where I fit right now, but we will see and hopefully I can just help us win.”

Related: Silverbacks’ win first home and away games of 2019

Little more than a week after joining the Silverbacks, Rizzolo will be facing off with his old teammates from Alberni Valley. While he knows there will be some friendly rivalries, he is confident there won’t be any hard feelings.

“It will be a little weird, but I mean I have done it before when I got traded from Vernon. It is kind of nice to see the guys again because you know you won’t see them again for a long time. There will be some chirping, but other than that it will be good. I know how they all play and I know their structure better than anybody so it will be fine for me,” he says.

Rizzolo’s first run of games on the Silverbacks bench were against the Vernon Vipers Jan. 11, then the Powell River Kings Jan. 12 and the Nanaimo Clippers Jan. 13.


 

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jodi.brak@saobserver.net

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