Former Swan Valley Stampeder and Dauphin King, Justin Valentino just recently finished his fifth year of hockey at the University of Lethbridge. He played for the Pronghorns and they hosted this past season's National Championships.
Although it wasn't the ending Justin was hoping for as the team didn't win, he will have a chance to win a title elsewhere. He's signed his first professional hockey contract as he will join Briançon of the France Elite League.
Justin showed off his skill by putting up 80 points over the past four seasons with Lethbridge. 38 of the points were goals.
"It's definitely pretty exciting," said Valentino. "I'm just kind of finding out all the details on when I have to report and all that. It's a slow process, but it's definitely an exciting one."
Although most pro contracts signed by a player go through their agent, that wasn't the case with Justin.
"I don't actually have an agent. A former teammate of mine played in the league and he helped a lot," continued Valentino. "Current coaches and past ones as well have really helped a lot. I'm really looking forward to it for sure."
Justin is coming off a near career season with the Pronghorns. He put up 27 points (9G) in 28 games. He had 28 points two seasons prior. Now it's all about preparation for Valentino. He'll spend a ton of time in the gym as he gets ready to play against guys that have been professionals for years.
"It's definitely going to be a lot different. The nice thing is I won't have to balance school with hockey anymore, I'll be able to solely focus on the game," said Valentino. "Obviously it's a different game over there and it's a new opportunity. It should be a challenge, but I'm ready for it."
Valentino's friend, Tim Campbell helped with the process of Justin signing his contract, and Justin is hoping he can do exactly what Tim is. Campbell is getting set for his second professional season and he's combined for 75 points in the first two seasons.
"I'm hoping I can do what Tim's been able to do, he's done really well for himself," added Valentino. "I'm just going to enjoy the new opportunity that's come about and we'll see how it goes."
Of course, travelling around Europe is also something Justin's looking forward to.
"I've never really been over to Europe, so if I can play some hockey and check it out, it's going to be pretty great," added Valentino. "I really can't wait to get over there."