Fritsche's return to health is good news for the
Key Statistics: Fritsche,
INCH's Freshman of the Year in 2005, missed the first
half of his junior season due to a severe bout of ulcerative
colitis. The intestinal condition forced him to spend
much of September in the hospital — unable to
eat solid food, he lost 40 pounds while being fed intravenously.
Upon his return, he scored 13 points in 19 games.
What He Does: In his first two seasons
in Columbus, Fritsche established himself as one of
the CCHA's most dynamic offensive threats. He's got
a knack for setting up his teammates and for finding
holes in his opponents' defensive zone coverage, sneaking
into those spaces for quality scoring chances. Fritsche
seems bigger than his listed size of 5-foot-11, 185
pounds, but he struggled to make plays in traffic upon
his return last year. He's also valuable contributor
to the Buckeyes' special teams.
The Bigger Picture: Ohio State coach
John Markell says it's quite possible Fritsche was feeling
the effects of ulcerative colitis as a freshman and
sophomore, though not as extreme as what he endured
last fall. What that means, explains Markell, is that
as good as Fritsche was during those two seasons, there's
a chance we haven't seen him playing at full strength
— a scary thought for OSU's opponents. If he produces
like he did as a freshman and sophomore, when he averaged
nearly a point a game and figured in on about 30 percent
of the Buckeyes' goals, it'll be a big boost for a team
that recorded five ties and had seven one-goal losses
The immediate task, however, is catching
up on the classwork he missed when he was hospitalized.
Markell says Fritsche has devoted a good chunk of his
summer to school.
Ohio State head coach John Markell
on the example Fritsche has set for the team: “It's
been frustrating for him, but with his life plan he's
doing better with [colitis] and he's maturing. He'll
be a tremendous role model if he can fight through this
adversity and show the other guys that it all can be
taken away from you pretty quickly.”