On the first Saturday of the National Hockey League’s 2018/19 campaign back in October, a former Waterloo Black Hawks defenseman made his NHL debut; the same situation appears likely for the season’s final Saturday when the Philadelphia Flyers host the Carolina Hurricanes.
On Friday, the Flyers recalled Mark Friedman from the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, their American Hockey League affiliate. If Friedman skates in his first NHL game on Saturday, it will close a year which began when Jacob MacDonald scored on his first shot while taking the ice for the Florida Panthers.
Friedman is spending his second season in the Philadelphia organization after the Flyers drafted him in the third round (86th overall) in 2014. He has skated in 71 AHL games this winter, recording five goals and 19 assists. As a college player, Friedman spent three seasons at Bowling Green, notching 68 points (16 goals, 52 assists) in 121 NCAA games over three seasons. He was also a career +22 player at the college level.
In the two years leading up to his selection by Philadelphia, Friedman provided his offensive savvy on the Waterloo blue line. Wearing a Black Hawks sweater during the 2012/13 and 2013/14 seasons, Friedman had 18 goals and 57 assists (75 points) in 115 USHL regular season games. He also contributed two goals and ten assists in 17 Clark Cup Playoff games, helping Waterloo reach the 2014 Clark Cup Championship Series.
The 2013/14 Black Hawks won the Anderson Cup, signifying the United States Hockey League’s best regular season record. Waterloo’s 44 victories that season remain a club record. Two of Friedman’s other teammates from that squad made their NHL debuts in 2018/19: goalie Cal Petersen (L.A. Kings) and forward Patrick Russell (Edmonton Oilers). Brandon Montour (Buffalo Sabres) and Zach Sanford (St. Louis Blues) were also key contributors to the Hawks in 2013/14 and have been in the NHL since each taking the ice for the first time at that level in 2016/17.
In the event that Friedman makes his debut on Saturday, he will be the third former Black Hawk to appear for the Flyers in a regular season game. Like Friedman, those who went to Philadelphia before him were also defenseman. Mark Eaton was a Flyer during the 1999/2000 season. Andrew Alberts also spent one year there in 2008/09.