Sunday, October 10, 2010

Original Canuck; Garth Rizzuto

For their home opener and 40th anniversary celebrations, the Vancouver Canucks brought back many of the men who played in their inaugural season of 1970/71. One of the names that may not have been familiar to many fans (myself included) was Garth Rizzuto. He was a 23 year old veteran of 3 professional seasons when he debuted with Vancouver.

The Trail, BC native had played his junior hockey with the coincidentally named Moose Jaw Canucks scoring 24 goals and 55 points in 55 games in 1966/67. With his rights owned by Chicago, Rizzuto toiled for three seasons with the Dallas Black Hawks of the Central Hockey League. He tallied 59 then 62 points before being claimed by Vancouver in the expansion draft.

Rizzuto played 37 games in that first Canuck season collecting 3 goals and 4 assists. He also scored 20 points in 22 games for Canuck's farm team in Rochester. With oppurtunity's limited, he left Rochester half-way thru the following year to play with the Seattle Totems of the Western League. He then signed as a free agent with the upstart Winnipeg Jets of the newly formed WHA for 1972/73. After two seasons in the 'Peg he would play part of one more year with the Nelson Maple Leafs of the Western International Hockey League and retire at the age of 27.

Rizzuto was the first BC born and trained player to play and score a goal for the Vancouver Canucks. Currently Garth Rizzuto lives in Fernie, BC where he runs a boxing club.

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