Tanner Fritz didn’t take the direct route to his NHL debut on Tuesday, but he’s here and that’s all that matters.
“A couple years ago I don’t think I would’ve seen myself in this position but I kept working hard, working at my game, trying to get better each day,” Fritz said on Tuesday morning, just after Doug Weight said the Monday call-up from Bridgeport was playing against the Bruins. “I’m thankful I’ve gotten a couple good opportunities and I’ve taken advantage of those.”
The 26-year-old forward leads the Sound Tigers with 35 points in 29 games and Weight wanted to see him give the third line a shot in the arm. Fritz played on the right side with Shane Prince and Brock Nelson.
“He’s earned his trip up here,” Weight said. “We need some swagger, we want him to bring his energy and bring his confidence. We’ve talked about the lack of confidence going through our third line and we need some guys to step up and hopefully Tanner can help us get some energy in that position.”
Fritz, who signed a minor-league deal in 2015 after four years at Ohio State, said his father and brother flew in from Alberta to be at Tuesday’s game.
When Sound Tigers coach Brent Thompson informed Fritz of the call up on Monday, “I just had a weird jitter feeling in my stomach that I haven’t had since I was a young kid,” Fritz said. “It’s an exciting time for me, but also my family.”