VOORHEES, N.J. -- Mark Friedman is out to make a name for himself.
The Flyers' 2014 third-round draft pick took his first steps on the ice in orange and black this week at the team’s six-day offseason development camp.
“It was good,” Friedman said after his first on-ice session. “Little rusty, but I’m sure it’ll be a lot better tomorrow.”
Last month, the Flyers selected the 18-year-old defenseman from the USHL's Waterloo Black Hawks with the 86th pick in the draft. He was the second of three defensemen the Flyers selected this year.
And only now has it started to feel real for the Toronto native.
“Coming out on the ice with such great guys with great skill, it’s really showing me that I’m actually here now," he said. “All the hard work's paid off, but I’ve still got a long way to go.”
Over the first few days of development camp, Friedman did his best to showcase his speed and offensive potential as a two-way defenseman to coaches and fans during drills. All the while, he said, getting used to a few new workouts and some different ice conditions.
"Catching passes on our backhand," Friedman said, "trying to emphasis how important taking passes are and working on not great ice helps out a lot too. Catching passes on not-so-great ice can really help you in the game."
The 5-foot-10, 185-pound blueliner has spent the past two seasons in Waterloo. In 51 games last season, Friedman totaled 10 goals and 30 assists with a plus-22 rating during that span, good enough for fourth in points in the USHL. He also added seven assists in the playoffs over 12 games.
Friedman could have risen higher up the board, if it weren’t for contracting mononucleosis in the middle of the last season (remind you of someone?), which caused him to miss nine games.
“It wasn’t too bad,” he said. “I didn’t lose my shape too much, but getting back to that level with speed and compete was hard to get back to at first. Then I got back into it, they gave me a week and I was good.”
Battling mono wasn’t the only tough experience of Friedman's past year. He has been committed to attending Bowling Green State University since he was 15 and planned on playing with the Falcons last year. However, a snafu involving paperwork caused Friedman's enrollment at the university to be delayed, and he spent another year in Waterloo instead.
Why Bowling Green? Friedman explained that his love for the coaches, the players and the atmosphere helped him commit at such a young age.
“I want to be a part of it,” he said. “I want to be a part of the uprising for Bowling Green and make them a better program.”
Having to wait another year may have been the best course of action for Friedman, he admitted, citing his maturity level on and off the ice as a point of growth from the previous season.
"I didn’t think I was mature enough, as a person and a player," Friedman said. "The extra year really helped me out."
Friedman also said he didn’t really consider hopping over to the Ontario Hockey League to play instead of going back to the Black Hawks for a second season.
“Not making it in last year due to school issues and realizing that Waterloo had so many people drafted the year before, I realized that it was my best opportunity to come and get drafted," he said
Fast-forward a season later and Friedman has the chance to achieve more of his goals -- hopefully uninterrupted -- starting with impressing the Flyers' coaches at development camp.
“[My goal is] to make a name for myself. Just get better every day, no complaining,” Friedman said. “Listen to what the coaches have to say and just be a good guy on and off the ice.”