CALGARY, AB -- After careful consideration, Calgary Flames 2012 first round draft pick Mark Jankowski has decided to head to Providence College for the 2012-13 season.
Jankowski was originally planning on playing for the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the USHL this fall but felt Providence offers the best development path at this point in his career.
"I think I'm ready to step in, play a role and help Coach Leaman and his program win a national championship - that's the goal," the pivot told CalgaryFlames.com. "I'm ready to step in and do that."
Having to pick between the two programs was extremely difficult as Jankowski thinks the world of Dubuque, their coaching staff and players.
"Dubuque was a great option as well. I don't think I could have went wrong either way. Coach Montgomery is running a first-class organization ... one of the best junior organizations in the world."
Several factors went into the decision. Jankowski reviewed game schedules and saw Providence plays a lot of games on the weekend. This is extremely beneficial when it comes to his fitness regimen. At 6-foot-2 and 170 lbs., the forward needs to fill out his frame.
"The schedule is a little more condensed so that gives me a lot more time for weight training and getting into the gym. It's really important, it's what I need to work on - getting bigger and stronger."
He also reflected on how he played against his fellow prospects earlier this month at the Flames development camp. He was able to get a taste of what kind of competition he would face at the next level and gained confidence from how he performed.
"I was a little nervous at first, playing against a lot of older guys," the 17 year-old admitted. "But coming out of there, I felt really confident. I held my own playing against and with those guys."
Netminder Jon Gillies, who was drafted by the Flames in the third round this year, is also attending Providence in the fall. The two have become good friends over the last couple of months and Jankowski is looking forward to having a familiar face on the squad.
"When I was in Calgary, I hung out with Jon a lot. He's a great player and a great friend. He's definitely going to make the transition a lot easier.
"I've always been talking to a lot of the other incoming freshmen. I know it's going to be a great group and I'm really excited."
Jankowski has also been in contact with a Providence veteran. Captain Tim Schaller attended the Flames development camp on an amateur try-out agreement and was Jankowski's roommate that week.
"It goes to show what great leadership that team is going to have because of the type of guy he is. He's a first-class guy and I know that he's going to help me develop; being a senior, being a captain, I can really look up to someone like him."
Jankowski potted 53 goals and recorded 94 points with Quebec's Stanstead College last season. The Flames selected him 21st overall in a move some dubbed "off the board." However, the Flames had been watching the Hamilton, ON product for quite some time and saw the raw talent some scouting teams may have missed due to Stanstead College being off the beaten path.
"His physical attributes, in my mind, are just off the charts," Flames assistant general manager John Weisbrod said at the draft. "His hockey sense, his hands, his skating. He's an exceptional physical talent.
"Mark's got a long distance to travel but he's just so talented that, if he can travel it, he can be really, really special in my opinion."