Mark Cavallin is currently one of the assistant coaches for the Carleton University Ravens men’s hockey team with an extensive European background.
Prior to his coaching stint, Cavallin played hockey himself, as a goaltender for various teams in various nations in Europe.
“I think it was because my brother played, and obviously being in Canada, everyone wants to start playing hockey, so I was no different than anyone else,” Cavallin said about his start in hockey.
Cavallin began his longest stretch of playing for one league when he joined the British Ice Hockey Superleague (BISL) for the 1998-99 season, now known as the Elite Ice Hockey League.
While a part of the BISL, Cavallin played for the London Knights, Belfast Giants, and the Scottish Eagles.
“It wasn’t that hard of a transition because there was no language barrier. A couple things, one, that’s where I met my wife, and then also I was able to start a year of existence for two teams. So that was for the London Knights and then we moved to Belfast for two years and that was the first two years of their existence. So, it was a good time,” Cavallin said about his time in the BISL.
Following his time in the BISL, Cavallin then made his way to Germany where he joined the Germany2 League in which he played for the Tolzer Lowen and the Eisbaren Regensburg.
“We loved living there. Took to living in Bavaria very nicely, we just enjoyed our time because it’s a great place in the world, we were always by the mountains. Regensburg is also a beautiful city. It has a lot of great architecture and old buildings,” Cavallin said.
“So that was two years in each place, loved them both, loved the language as well, loved learning that, and we were loving it. We were thinking about maybe staying there for good, that’s how much we liked it,” Cavallin added.
Following his stint with Tolzer Lowen in 2005-06, Cavallin took on a head coach position for Gherdeina of the Italy2 League in 2006-07.
After a year of coaching in Italy, Cavallin and his wife moved back to Canada where Cavallin took a few years off from hockey.
In the 2015-16 season, Cavallin was took on the role of being the goaltending coach for the Ravens, under then bench boss, Marty Johnston.
“It kind of just happened, just getting together with the guys here, the coaching staff like Johnston and Shaun Van Allen. I just started hanging out with them, and then they just asked me if I would take on that role and I was happy about that,” Cavallin said.
Once Van Allen became head coach of the Ravens for the 2017-18 season, Cavallin became the assistant coach alongside his counterpart Joey Manley. Since becoming assistant coach, Cavallin has been in charge of coaching the defencemen.
“If you ask any goaltender, they think they know the game better than anyone else anyway, so, its not necessarily true, but I love the teaching part, that’s always what I’ve liked doing, and I’d coached before in Italy and loved that, so I was excited for it,” Cavallin said.
Cavallin has had many memorable moments from being a goaltender. But he believes that his most memorable moment has just been the role of being a goaltender.
“Always anytime you win a championship is good, you feel like you’ve contributed to that as a goalie, the goalie usually plays a big part of that. But I think it was always that goaltending offered a big challenge of every night you played a big role in the game, and you’re always having to be responsible to your teammates. So, I think, first and foremost, my personality just kind of made me feel that I had to play best for my teammates,” Cavallin said.
While his coaching career isn’t over, Cavallin also has many memorable moments from his short time of coaching.
“I think there are certain times you feel like you’ve helped certain players, whether its on the ice, or whether its off the ice, I always felt that coaching University Sports is a great opportunity to not only help the player as an athlete, but also to help the individual become a more mature individual ready to take on the challenges of life after university. So anytime I feel that I help a student athlete to develop more as a person, I think that’s very rewarding,” Cavallin said.
As for the future, Cavallin hopes that he and his wife will have the chance to lay down their roots in Europe once their children are able to take care of themselves full time.
“I hope to continue on coaching. I think one day, both my wife and I, love Europe and living there, and I think once our children are out of the need of what we can help them with, then I think I’d like to go back to Europe and maybe coach there,” Cavallin said.