Former North York Ranger Gabe Valenzuela, now with the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) Tigers, was named Atlantic Hockey’s Rookie of the Week for his recent performance this past weekend.
Valenzuela would join the Milton Icehawks late in the 2011-12 season and although only with the club for a short-time, tasted immediate success, scoring goals in his first two junior games, while recording five goals and thirteen points in the final eleven games of the regular season. .
Following a year away from the rink, the skilled playmaker returned in 2013-14, joining the North York Rangers. Valenzuela picked-up where he had left off, starting the season with a three game point scoring streak and going on to play all 53 regular season games for the club. He finished the regular season with 10 goals and 34 points and then posted another six points in six post-season contests.
It was the 2014-15 season that saw a true breakout from Valenzuela and earned his scholarship to RIT. The diminutive forward’s quick start to the 2014-15 season saw him named the OJHL Gongshow Gear South-West Conference Player-of-the-Month for October after recording 20 points in 11 games during the month. Valenzuela’s efforts this season would earn him a spot on Team OJHL Coffey, tallying one goal in three games at the 2014 Central Canada Cup All-Star Challenge that was held in Toronto. After finishing the season with 34 goals and 76 points in 53 regular season contests, he was named an OJHL 2nd Team All-Star Forward, the league’s Most Improved Player Award recipient and the runner-up for the Most Gentlemanly Player Award.
Below is the press release from the RIT Athletics website (www.ritathletics.com):
Sophomore defenseman Chase Norrish (Strongfield, Saskatchewan/Yorkton Terriers) and freshman forward Gabe Valenzuela (Brampton, Ontario/North York Rangers) of the RIT men’s hockey team earned Atlantic Hockey Conference Weekly honors on Tuesday, for the week ending Jan. 3, 2016. Norrish was named the Atlantic Hockey Defensive Player of the Week, while Valenzuela garnered Rookie of the Week honors. It is the first weekly honor for both student-athletes.
Norrish returned from injury to enjoy an incredible weekend for the Tigers, recording five points on a goal and four assists, while blocking three shots and was plus-3, as RIT skated to a weekend sweep over league foe Mercyhurst. On Saturday, Norrish had two assists and blocked two shots in a 4-2 win. Sunday night, Norrish notched a career-high three points on a goal and two assists and was plus-3 in RIT’s 7-3 win. Norrish is the first RIT defensemen to have five points in a weekend series since Dan Ringwald did so with six in a sweep over Connecticut on Oct. 30-31, 2009. Norrish has nine points on two goals and seven assists in 14 games this season.
Valenzuela tallied three assists and was plus-2 as RIT skated to the weekend sweep over Mercyhurst. On Saturday, Valenzuela had an assist in a 4-2 win. Sunday night, Valenzuela set a career-high with two assists in a 7-3 win. He leads all RIT first-year players with 11 points on four goals and seven assists this season.
RIT looks to extend its three-game winning streak this weekend, as league foe Canisius comes to the Gene Polisseni Center for a pair of games on Friday and Saturday. Both contests get underway at 7:05 p.m.
(Article courtesy OJHL, photo courtesy OJHL Images)