Sep 1, 2022

Forward Tanner Fritz inked a one-year AHL contract with the Hartford Wolf Pack in the summer of 2021, ending a six-year stint on the other side of the ‘Battle of Connecticut’ with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. A well-respected veteran with 42 NHL games under his belt, Fritz joined the Wolf Pack with plenty to prove a season ago.

After appearing in just 24 games total during the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons, Fritz finally enjoyed a healthy campaign in 2021-22. He skated in 62 games, the third highest total in his career, and found himself as one of the top contributors for the club, tallying 36 points (13 g, 23 a).

“It was a huge relief,” Fritz said when asked about staying healthy a season ago. “The previous two seasons were tough for me physically and mentally. I was just glad to be back playing hockey this past season and not worrying about my health. Hopefully, the trend will continue this coming season and beyond.”

While the overall mood on a personal level from last season is a good one, Fritz performed well enough to earn another one-year deal, from a team standpoint things did not end the way he or his teammates were hoping they would.

A sluggish second half saw the Wolf Pack finish outside of the playoffs and left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. That said, even in the pain of that finish, there are lessons to be learned for Fritz and his teammates.

“None of us are happy about what happened in the second half of the season last year,” Fritz said. “As a group, I think we all learned a lot from that. It’s a hard league to win in. Every night, you’re getting the other team’s best effort. Everyone is always trying to prove something in this league. We just need to find that consistent team effort throughout the whole season. That’s what is going to give us the best chance at success.”

The tough lessons aren’t the only thing that can be taken from last season. Falling short of the postseason has been a motivating factor for everyone returning to Hartford this fall, Frtiz included.

“No one wants to be on a losing team, especially with all the potential we had last season,” Fritz admitted. “We let that slip away, and that’s on us. I know the guys are excited and ready to get things going. It’s a new season, and things are going to be different for us.”

While a different overall outcome is the main goal for everyone on the Wolf Pack, Fritz himself has personal goals both on the ice and in the locker room for the upcoming season. Achieving those goals, he hopes, will lead to achieving the overall team goal.

“At the top of the list is to stay healthy,” Fritz said when asked about his goals for the 2022-23 season. “I also want to improve in other areas of my game. I want to be a better leader and help the young guys out as much as possible. Every year I want to get better as a player, so, individually just working on little things to make sure my game is where it needs to be to contribute to the team in any way.”

With seven professional seasons now under his belt, Fritz will be leaned on heavily by coach Kris Knoblauch this coming season. With a projected forward group that includes a number of young players, Fritz will play a key role both on the ice and in the room as Hartford looks to get back into the Calder Cup Playoffs.

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ABOUT THE HARTFORD WOLF PACK: The Hartford Wolf Pack has been a premier franchise in the American Hockey League since the team’s inception in 1997. The Wolf Pack are the top player-development affiliate of the NHL's New York Rangers and play at the XL Center. The Wolf Pack has been home to some of the Rangers newest faces including Igor Shesterkin, Filip Chytil, and Ryan Lindgren. Follow the Wolf Pack on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.  

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