Friday, 29 March 2019

Gazzola Jumps To Toledo

As we continue to follow some of the players who make the jump from U SPORTS men's hockey to the pro ranks, the news has been dominated by the Alberta Golden Bears thus far. I've been waiting for the U SPORTS National Champions to announce a signing, and we finally got one today as Randy Gazzola, the player celebrating on the right in the picture, signed a deal with the ECHL's Toledo Walleye!

Gazzola was a solid contributor from the blue line for the Varsity Reds over his five seasons in the AUS. In 134 career games with UNB, Gazzola scored 19 goals and added 86 assists while significantly reducing his penalty minute totals over the last two seasons compared with the previous three seasons. As a result, Gazzola played in more situations and saw more ice time as he matured, and he was a significant part of winning three national championships in the five years he played at UNB.

Prior to his stint in New Brunswick, the 25 year-old suited up for two QMJHL teams in the Halifax Mooseheads and the Val d'Or Foreurs where he played virtually the same number of games as he did in the AUS as Gazzola logged 135 games of service, amassing 23 goals and 84 assists of regular-season play. He also helped Val d'Or reach the Memorial Cup in 2013-14, so UNB got him on the rise as he transferred to the university in the summer following that season.

The right-shooting defenceman joins the ECHL affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings, and will work to rise through the ranks of the Red Wings' minor league teams to hopefully reunite with his former Foreurs teammate from 2013-14 in Anthony Mantha. Mantha, of course, was a first-round selection by the Red Wings in 2013, and he led the Foreurs in scoring in that 2013-14 season.

Gazzola should help Toledo immensely with his skill set as he can put up points when needed, but he's a fearless defender when it comes to blocking shots and playing the body. He's the kind of defender that all coaches want as he'll absorb the pain of blocking a shot in order to help his team transition to offence off that blocked shot. Gazzola likely won't lead a team in points, but he'll do the little things in terms of clearing the crease, throwing checks, and blocking shots that help teams win games. In the end, that's what every team wants.

Congratulations to Randy Gazzola as he begins life as a pro hockey player with the Toledo Walleye!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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