Swiss miss no big deal for Fritsche

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:49 AM ET

Danny Fritsche could have been sampling the finest Swiss chocolate and going on sight-seeing trips through the Alps.

But instead of playing for Ambri Piotta in the Swiss National League this season, the 19-year-old soon will resume his hockey career with the Sarnia Sting after making a full recovery from shoulder surgery.

"This is still a good situation for me," said Fritsche, who will return to the Sting lineup either this weekend or next. "I've loved it here in Sarnia. We feel we have a chance to do something in the (West) division."

It's probable that without the NHL lockout Fritsche would be skating for the Columbus Blue Jackets. He played in 19 games for Columbus last season and was sent back to Sarnia of the Ontario Hockey League in January after helping the U.S. win gold at the world junior championship in Finland. Fritsche recorded 29 points in 27 games for Sarnia and then joined Syracuse for the AHL playoffs. It was with the Crunch that he suffered a shoulder injury, which forced him to have surgery on one of his shoulders for the third time.

Fritsche felt better at times throughout the summer and he spent three weeks training in Switzerland. Thanks to his lineage -- Fritsche's great grandfather on his dad Jim's side is Swiss -- Fritsche holds dual citizenship and had an option to play in Switzerland this season. Fritsche's uncle, John Fritsche, is an assistant coach with Ambri Piotta.

Blue Jackets general manager Doug MacLean, however, preferred that Fritsche play in Sarnia. Unlike some star players who play for struggling teams, Sting GM Alan Millar said there is no chance Fritsche, who has been named to the 2005 US world junior team, will be dealt to a contender.

"He wants to help turn things around here and we have agreed that he will finish his junior career in Sarnia," Millar said. "Danny is an elite player and he has already brought us leadership and character."

TOUGH SCHEDULING

Anthony Stewart of the Kingston Frontenacs will be replaced by the Kitchener Rangers' Evan McGrath in the OHL lineup tomorrow night in the Canada-Russia Challenge game in Barrie. With the second game in the challenge on Monday night in Mississauga, it means Stewart won't have to play five games in five nights -- three with Kingston sandwiched by two with the Ontario club. Stewart, who played for Canada at the world junior last winter, is a virtual lock to suit up for Canada again next month.


Videos

Photos