Eighteen-year-old Mark Friedman achieved his lifelong goal when he was drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers in the NHL Entry Draft earlier this summer.
“This has been my dream as long as I have been watching hockey on TV,” said Friedman.
Friedman was drafted in the third round, 86th overall, on June 28 in Philadelphia, where the draft was held..
Growing up, the young Friedman laced up his skates like his father, uncle and grandfather had done years before.
“My late Zaide, Mark Friedman, for whom I was named, was an awesome athlete. My dad, Jeff, and my uncle, Bram, were fortunate that my grandfather turned his passion for sports and love of hockey into coaching. He coached both my dad and uncle at the Don Mills Flyers, the same minor team that I played for, growing up. Once a Flyer, always a Flyer,” laughed Mark.
As a defenceman, Friedman admits that he’s a bit undersized at 5-11 and 190 pounds.
“I don’t let it bother me that I am one of the smaller guys, since I believe I am one of the strongest, pound per pound, and I really use my speed and hockey smarts to my ability,” he said.
“After minor hockey I knew there was something there.”
Following his minor hockey years with the Don Mills Flyers of the Greater Toronto Hockey League, Friedman, went on to play junior hockey in the Ontario Junior Hockey League with the North York Rangers. For the past two years, he’s been living in Waterloo, Iowa, and playing for for the Waterloo Black Hawks of the United States Hockey League, the highest tier junior league south of the border.
Excellent coaching, good advice along with focus and hard work have paved the way for Friedman’s climb.
“Mark is going to Bowling Green State University [BGSU] on a full hockey scholarship in the fall and will be playing for coaches Chris Bergeron, Ty Eigner, and Barry Schutte,” said dad, Jeff Friedman, with pride.
Lucky number 14 has become significant.
“Mark will be wearing No. 14 for the BGSU Falcons. Mark made his commitment when he was 14 years old. Mark was drafted in 2014, and will start his college experience in 2014 – and if that wasn’t enough, his coach Ty Eigner wore No. 14 when he played for BGSU,” added Jeff.
Having suffered one injury – a concussion as a 16-year-old – from which he fully recovered after two weeks, Mark shares his message for aspiring hockey players:
“Never give up. I have been told that I wasn’t good enough, that I wasn’t big enough. You can never listen to the critics – you must believe in yourself. It comes down to hard work, determination, and believing in yourself. If you have these traits, you can do and have whatever you want in life.”
Working with an athletic trainer and sports condition coach, Friedman keeps up a rigorous pace, training Monday to Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. He skates on Thursday and heads back to the gym on Friday.
“Weekends are my time off, but I usually get time for a skate, and I might go for a run,” said Friedman.
With a 35-game schedule at BGSU, this will be one of the shortest seasons Friedman has ever had, with sufficient time to focus on his studies at school.
“The support of my entire family, including my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, has been tremendous, and has led me to where I am today,” he said.
“Both my mom and dad have sacrificed their free time for me to be successful. From early morning practices, to late-night sessions, to workouts – you name it. They have always been there for me, showing their support,” said Friedman, with gratitude.
“The pleasure a parent experiences seeing a child prosper at anything is indescribable,” said dad, Jeff. “My wife, Joanne, and I were a bit welled up when his name got called… and to Philly while in Philly. It was an experience we will never forget.
“Mark understands that this is a step along a path, and his journey to college and then to the NHL are stops along the way.”