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.”
Weight wants confidence from Beau
Anthony Beauvillier’s first trip to the AHL was not a huge surprise, given the 20-year-old’s occasional healthy scratches and limited ice time through much of the season. He and veteran forward Steve Bernier were sent to Bridgeport on Monday just before Fritz was called up.
“It was a tough talk, we talked to him for an hour on the plane yesterday,” Weight said. “Beau was a little lost. He’s got to get his confidence. He’s a great kid, he’s going to be an NHL player, there’s no doubt in my mind. It’ll be great for him to go down, play a lot of minutes, put a lot of responsibility on him. It’s going to be good for him.”
Bailey named NHL’s second star for December
Josh Bailey earned the league’s No. 2 star for December with seven goals and 15 assists in 15 games.
“It’s nice to get that kind of recognition,” Bailey said. “It’s something to take pride in. We wouldn’t be having these sort of talks if it wasn’t for Johnny (Tavares) and Anders (Lee) as well. Just trying to keep building and moving forward.”