Selected 47th overall in 2005 by the Colorado Avalanche, Tom Fritsche is No. 8 on the team’s prospect rankings by Hockey’s Future. The 5’11, 185 lbs left winger has a reputation for sensational playmaking skills and passing as well as very good hockey sense and vision. But Fritsche is also an effective defensive player. He understands his role in the defensive zone and battles hard along the boards. This year with The Ohio State University, Fritsche has 17 points in 17 games, leading his team. Half of his goals have come on special teams, with two power play goals and one short-handed marker.
Despite his offensive prowess, Fritsche appears to be destined for a role as a defensive specialist with the Team USA World Junior squad. In practices leading up to the tourney, Fritsche has been lining up alongside Geoff Paukovich (EDM) and Nate Davis (CHI).
Fritsche spoke with Hockey’s Future after a team practice in Victoria, BC.
HF: How much does it mean to you to be representing the United States in this tournament?
TF: Everything. I wish it was something everybody could experience. And I think it’s one of the best things you can do.
HF: What other experience do you have in international events?
TF: I played for the US program, Under 17 and Under 18, so I played in about seven international tournaments and the Under 18 championships which was the biggest one. I’m hoping to add to that experience here.
HF: What is your role going to be with this World Junior team?
TF: I’m not really sure right now, but I think it’s going to be work hard, create energy and work hard killing penalties.
HF: Who do you think your linemates will be?
TF: At this point I’ve been playing with Nate Davis and Geoff Paukovich and it’s going well.
HF: What role has your brother Dan had in your development as a hockey player?
TF: A lot. I mean, he doesn’t really need to say much, I just watch what he does and watch him play and skate with him in the summer or whenever I have the chance. Just try to follow in his footsteps.
HF: Were you two big rivals growing up? Did you fight often?
TF: Oh yeah!
HF: Did you ever play on the same team?
TF: We did at the summer camp, the summer tryouts, for this team two years ago.
HF: Do you ever read articles about yourself? Especially in the lead up to the draft, were you following where pundits expected you to be selected?
TF: Yeah, I mean it’s kind of hard not to. I try not to focus on it, but you come across it and my coaches told me once in a while.
HF: What do you think the biggest obstacle is that you have to overcome in order to make it to the NHL?
TF: I think that’s going to be my size and my strength. I’m working on getting my strength. My size, I don’t think I’m going to grow anymore, so I think it’s just going to be getting stronger.
HF: Ohio State is currently sitting fourth in the CCHA, what’s it going to take for you guys to get to the top of the conference?
TF: I think we’ve got to keep going. We had a good weekend last weekend. We have to keep going on all cylinders and keep everyone going, from the defense to the forwards. Everybody going at the same time.
HF: What would you say the Ohio State hockey program emphasizes for its players?
TF: I think it’s hard work and character. Keeping an upbeat team and four lines going all the time.
HF: Does it make you more confident knowing the school has recently produced quality hockey players like Ryan Kesler and RJ Umberger?
TF: Yeah it does. I looked at that before I came to the school. Lots of the guys coming out of there were doing well. It gives you hope and lets you know that you can do it.
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