COLUMBUS, Ohio - Ohio State men's hockey junior forward Tom Fritsche was the recipient of the Terry Flanagan Memorial Award, the Central Collegiate Hockey Association announced at its annual awards banquet Thursday at the Fox Theater in Detroit.
The Terry Flanagan Memorial Award is given annually to an upperclassman that has overcome some type of personal adversity and is active on the university campus and surrounding community. It is named for the Bowling Green assistant coach who passed away in December 1991 after a battle with cancer. The recipient is chosen by a committee comprised of league athletics directors and faculty athletics representatives. Fritsche is the second Buckeye to win the award, joining Scott Titus, the 2002 recipient.
Fritsche, the Buckeyes' leading scorer the last two seasons and a second-round draft pick of the Colorado Avalanche, returned to the lineup Dec. 29 after suffering from severe ulcerative colitis, a chronic intestinal disorder that forced him to miss the first half of the 2006-07 season.
He began feeling symptoms of the disease last summer and his health was slipping. He spent much of September in a Cleveland-area hospital getting treatment and eventually lost 40 pounds. The condition worsened to the point where he had to be fed through an IV because his body could not tolerate solid food. The typical treatment for the disease did not work, and the doctors debated surgery, but Fritsche eventually found a doctor who started him on a drug regimen that worked for his personal symptoms.
Fritsche, the 2005 Inside College Hockey Freshman of the Year and a CCHA All-Rookie Team selection, has worked hard to rebuild his strength, and has regained the majority of the weight lost. Fritsche's return gave an immediate lift to the team despite not being at full strength. The squad won the Ohio Hockey Classic with victories in his first two games back, including a win against then-No. 4 Miami in the championship game. Fritsche has earned more ice time as his strength and endurance have increased, and has earned spots on both the power-play and penalty-killing units.
Fritsche played in the final 19 games of the season, posting five goals and eight assists for 13 points for the team. He scored three power-play goals and had one game-winning tally.