by Warren Rappleyea
You never know where the hockey road will lead you and Ottawa Junior Senators assistant coach Mark Fratarcangeli is a perfect example.
The 28-year-old’s path took him off the ice and into medical school at the University of Ottawa where he is studying to become an orthopedic surgeon. Of course, hockey helped the Tecumseh, ON native get there.
“Mark is an excellent coach and, more important, he’s a great role model for our players,” Junior Senators Head Coach Charlie Lavigne said. “He’s going to impact a lot of people in a very positive way.”
Fratarcangeli, who is the coaching staff’s “eye in the sky” when he’s not on the bench, joined the Ottawa staff two seasons ago at the request of former Coach Kyle Makaric. During that time Ottawa won a pair of Bogart Cups and went to the Royal Bank Cup twice.
“Charlie and [OJS General Manager] Stu Battrick asked me if I would stay on,” Fratarcangeli said. “I was happy that they asked and I’m glad I was able to keep coaching.”
It’s clearly a labor of love for the former Adrian College standout. Fratarcangeli’s typical day begins at about 5 am when he heads to either Ottawa Civic Hospital or the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario. That part of his day ends about 12 hours later. Then it’s on to practice, a game or an OJS gym workout. Then he heads home to hit the books and have dinner with his fiancée, Jordan.
“It’s definitely a busy schedule, but I enjoy it or I wouldn’t be here,” Fratarcangeli said. “My first two years at OJS, I was pretty much in the classroom during the day. Now I’m actually in the hospital working in orthopedics, general surgery or pediatric surgery. It’s a full day for sure.”
Fratarcangeli has added that one of his goals as a doctor will be to help athletes, particularly hockey players, avoid and recover from injuries. As a former player himself, he believes that being able to see things from both the player’s and the doctor’s point of view will be a major benefit.
“From my own experience I can tell you that athletes can be some of the trickiest people to work with,” Fratarcangeli said. “They want to play and want to return as soon as possible. I’ll be able to help advise as a doctor and from a ‘been there, done that’ perspective.’”
Like many players, the OJS assistant began playing the game at a young age, initially as a defenseman before moving up front at age 10. He progressed through the local youth ranks and made his way to the Chatham Maroons of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League. He went on to play for four years at Adrian College in Michigan, posting 21 goals and 16 assists in 33 games during the 2019-20 campaign.
Fratarcangeli was originally planning to go down the physical therapy route. After shadowing several doctors and working with one of the sports medicine physicians at the beginning of his junior year, Fratarcangeli knew medicine would be his focus.
Following graduation, he spent a year in Virginia to be near his fiancée and began coaching in the Washington Little Caps youth program during COVID. The following year, he moved to Ottawa to focus on his medical degree. A chance meeting with Makaric, who also hails from the Windsor area, led to Fratarcangeli being asked to join the OJS staff.
In addition to his tenure with the Little Caps, Fratarcangeli worked with young players at Power Tech Hockey in Windsor and Apex Hockey in Ottawa.
“I know different situations very well from playing and I’ve also worked on skills development, so I mostly focus on those areas,” Fratarcangeli said. “During games I usually sit upstairs and let the coaches know what I’m seeing. I do step behind the bench on occasion when one of the other coaches can’t make it.”
With about 18 months of medical school remaining, Fratarcangeli plans to continue exactly what he’s doing.
“When you fill your days doing things you love it never feels like work,” he said.
And as Battrick, the Junior Sens GM says, “We’re so glad to have Mark. He’s a credit to our organization.”