The Manitoba Junior Hockey League continues to showcase its ability to further to the hockey careers of its many young players. This past week, former Dauphin Kings and Swan Valley Stampeders alumni Justin Valentino announced his decision to sign with the ECHL’s Brampton Beast for the 2020-21 season.
The now 27-year-old of Thompson spent three years from 2011-14 playing junior with the Stampeders and Kings, where he produced 51 goals, 153 points and 191 penalty minutes in 182 regular season contests, while also earning six goals, 16 points and 28 penalty minutes in 30 postseason games. Valentino then committed to the University of Lethbridge, where he played five seasons with the Pronghorns, also delivering offensively with 41 goals, 96 points and 46 penalty minutes in 140 games.
Following the 2018-19 U-Sports season, the former Norman Northstars U18 AAA star moved overseas for his first year of professional hockey. Valentino suited up for both Briancon of France and Podhale Nowy Targ of Poland, where he put up nine goals, 21 points and 12 penalty minutes in 38 combined regular season games for the third place team.
The 5-foot-10, 180-pound forward will join a Brampton team that finished third in the ECHL’s North Division last season with a 34-25-3 record. Placing 10th out of 26 teams overall, while maintaining fifth in the Eastern Conference, the Beast saw their season come to a close early due to the COVID-19 pandemic, following 62 total games played. There were no Manitobans on Brampton’s roster during the 2019-20 season, with most members coming from eastern Ontario.