Tanner Fritz eager for potential NHL opportunity

Author: Logan Clow, Grande Prairie Daily Herald-Tribune
Date: Aug 23, 2017

Ready and waiting.

Where Tanner Fritz begins his 2017-2018 pro hockey season remains to be seen, but if the 26-year-old had it his way, it’d be with the NHL’s New York Islanders.

This season marks an intriguing chapter in his career. The former Grande Prairie Storm forward – who spent four seasons with the team and captured the 2008-09 AJHL title – is entering the first year of a two-year, two-way contract with the New York Islanders organzation. It means he could play either in the NHL, AHL with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, or in the ECHL with the Missouri Mavericks. If Fritz is sent back down from the NHL, he would not be required to clear waivers.

Where he starts the season and where he could potentially end it doesn’t bother Fritz, who registered 19 goals and 23 assists in 63 games for the Sound Tigers last season – his second season with the team. He also played four NHL pre-season games last season with the Islanders.

“I think (the situation) does (change my mindset) a little bit. Just... obviously wherever I am I want to have a good year and build from last year; it was a good year for myself, so if I’m in the American Hockey League, that’s fine for me and just keep working hard and just keep plugging away and hopefully something happens. If I’m in the NHL at some point, I am, and just take it day-by-day and see how it goes. There’s so many ups and downs that you’ve just got to stay even keel,” said Fritz, who started his pro hockey career in 2015-2016 with time between the Mavericks and Sound Tigers.

“It’s super exciting (to sign the contract). Like I said, going into the year, I didn’t really expect to get an NHL contract. Now, you’re just that much closer and you have to keep working hard and hope for the best and hopefully you get that opportunity and you take advantage.”

Fritz’s journey is a similar path to Sexsmith’s Carter Rowney. Both played for the junior A Storm and then went on to play collegiate hockey in the States. They also went undrafted and then signed pro contracts with their respective organizations. Rowney, of course, captured the 2017 Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Similar to Rowney, Fritz noted the long route to his pro hockey career hasn’t been easy as well.

“I’ve always been someone who’s worked hard for what I’ve gotten, so nothing good never comes easy. Going into pro hockey, I didn’t think I would be in the situation I am now, but I’ve worked hard and things have turned out, and I’ve gotten a lot of opportunities... so, there’s a lot of people I have to thank for where I am today,” said Fritz, who took part in the Storm’s alumni weekend on Friday and Saturday.

“For young guys, you’ve got to work hard... you’ve got to earn your bounces... earn your opportunity, and if you do, take advantage of it.

“I’ve always said that if you want something, go and get it. Nothing just comes to you. The biggest thing is nothing comes easy. You have to work for everything you want."

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