Falcons' Friedman flourishing (07-03-14)
Written by KEVIN GORDON, Sentinel Sports Editor
Thursday, 03 July 2014 08:40
Mark Friedman expected to start playing college hockey at Bowling Green last fall.
|Mark Friedman in a Flyers’ jersey after Philadelphia selected him in the third round. (Photo courtesy Getty Images/Philadelphia Flyers)
But a mix-up in his high school transcripts prevented him from joining the Falcons.
The delay ended up helping his development.
And now he's flourishing.
The defenseman was selected by the Philadelphia Flyers in the third round of last weekend's NHL Draft.
He was the 86th player chosen. The Flyers have four years to sign him, allowing the Toronto native to begin his BG career this fall.
The 5-foot-10, 185-pounder has emerged as a player who can be trusted in all situations, and can skate on the power-play and penalty-killing units.
Friedman played the last two seasons at Waterloo in the United States (Junior) Hockey League.
The Toronto native had 10 goals and 37 assists in 63 games covering both the regular-season and the playoffs. He had on-ice rating of plus-23.
"Going back to Waterloo helped me tremendously," said Friedman, who didn't meet NCAA entrance requirements because of the mix-up which wasn't discovered until last summer.
Had Friedman come to BG last fall, he would have played the first half of his freshman season as a 17-year-old. But this season, he'll turn 19 on Christmas Day.
"My maturity on the ice wasn't ready for the college game," Friedman said. "This year, I really matured as a person on and off the ice. It was the best way for me to get ready for college hockey. I'm a lot more confident and mature now."
"I'm a more complete player and I don't just rely on my offense. I rely on my defense now. You can always be offensive, but you also have to be good defensively. Off the ice, I was a lot more involved in the community and I got along with people better."
Friedman could be one of BG's top four defensemen.
"We like everything about Mark's game," BG coach Chris Bergeron said. "He stayed in juniors for an extra year than we initially expected, but in the end, that may have been the best thing. He really grew and matured in that extra year in Waterloo. He's prepared to come in here and make an immediate impact."
"He's going into a good situation," Flyers' director of scouting Chris Pryor said. "He's going to get a lot of ice time."
Friedman's improvement last season helped his draft value. He was ranked as the 185th-best North American skater by NHL Central Scouting in its midseason rankings, but climbed to 124th in its final rankings.
"We think he's a high-end player without being flashy, and that's not a negative," Bergeron said. "He just does everything well. He's going to improve his strength, just like every young man does, and that will help him round out his game.
"The way Mark thinks the game, he'll play his way out of the undersized label," Bergeron added. "That won't even be a consideration. His shot, his skating are good now, but those are things you can never be too good at. He'll improve those because of how hard he works. With some time here, he'll be prepared to play against men, which is what college hockey is."
Friedman said the Flyers talked to him regularly last season.
"I talked to Philly before the draft and they told me I should get comfortable in my seat, but not too comfortable because they'd see me soon," said Friedman, who attended the draft in Philadelphia with his family. "Going in the third round wasn't a surprise."
The Flyers are rebuilding their defense as they've selected 11 defensemen in the last three drafts.
"They showed a lot of interest in me all year and that was the best interview I had before the draft," Friedman said. "Getting drafted in Philly was quite special with my family there and hearing the fans cheering. It was a dream come true, very special, very surreal."