Sean Merriman, BTN.com web editor, January 17, 2014
What would it be like to grow up in Canada and never travel outside of the country until your first college recruiting visit? That was the case for Ohio State junior Tanner Fritz, who is a member of the Buckeyes' men's ice hockey team.
Fritz was born and raised in Alberta, Canada and became interested in Ohio State through his cousin, Daymen Rycroft (Bencharski), who played for the Buckeyes from 2001-04. The Alberta-native enrolled at OSU in 2011 and made an instant impact during his first season, leading all freshman in games played and being voted Most Improved Player by his teammates.
Fritz went on to have an outstanding sophomore campaign, winning the CCHA scoring title with 32 points in league play and was first with 23 assists. He is currently in the midst of his junior season, ranking fourth on the Buckeyes in points (17) and tied for second in assists (14).
BTN.com chatted with Fritz before Ohio State's matchup against Minnesota tonight at 9 p.m. ET on BTN/BTN2Go as part of our second Frozen Friday doubleheader of the Big Ten season.
BTN.com: What attracted you to Ohio State?
Fritz: Well, my cousin obviously played there and he was the one who really got me interested in the program. They recruited me and I loved my visit there. I knew that was the right place for me.
BTN.com: Does anyone in your family have a hockey background?
Fritz: Not really. My dad played in industrial leagues. I have two brothers, and the oldest played until he was 17 or 18, but then decided it wasn't for him. But my dad always coached me growing up and I really enjoyed playing for him and learning from him. I was actually the first member of my family to go to college.
BTN.com: Alberta is VERY far away from Columbus, OH. Do you ever get home sick?
Fritz: I try to make it back when I can. I actually got to spend over three months at home this past summer, doing a lot of camping and playing some golf. But my parents are really good about visiting and coming to see me play. My entire family actually came down a couple months ago for a week, so that helps.
BTN.com: What is your best memory thus far at Ohio State?
Fritz: Probably my freshman year. We went to Michigan and swept them at Yost Arena. That had not happened in a while, and we all knew it was a huge rivalry.
BTN.com: Not growing up in this area, were you familiar with that Ohio State-Michigan rivalry? What was your first experience with it?
Fritz: I knew about it, but you don't really realize how intense the rivalry is until you play them. The crowd is just so hostile and all the fans hate you. There's a ton of energy whenever we play Michigan. They don't like Ohio State, that's for sure.
BTN.com: Tell me something unique about yourself that not many people know?
Fritz: Well, not many people believe me when I tell them that my first time ever traveling outside of Canada is when I took my first recruiting visit to Ohio State. I had never left the country before that. I remember having to make sure I got my passport on time because I never had a need for one before.
BTN.com: What goals have you set for yourself and for the team this season?
Fritz: We want to be the first team ever to win the Big Ten. We also want to make the tournament because we haven't done that since I've been here. I think we definitely have the team to that that this season. For myself, I just want to focus on getting better every day. My ultimate goal has always been to play hockey professionally, and that's still my No. 1 goal today.