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Jankowski hopes to soak in Flames debut

The Flames prospect has waited a long time to skate in an NHL game

by Aaron Vickers @AAVickers / CalgaryFlames.com

CALGARY, AB -- Mark Jankowski has been around long enough to know.

"Absolutely," said Jankowski, who will visit Rogers Place in the road side of a split-squad contest against the Edmonton Oilers on Monday (7 p.m. MT, CalgaryFlames.com).

"Hate the Oilers.

"It's going to be good. It's going to be a hard, intense game. It's the Battle of Alberta. You always want to beat Edmonton. Hate losing to them.

"It's going to be a really good game."

And, Young Stars Classic notwithstanding, Jankowski's first as a member of the Calgary Flames.

It's been a patient wait for the 22-year-old.

Four years, in fact.

Understandably, Jankowski, the No. 21 pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, is ready to get rolling as a pro.

"Ever since I was drafted I've dreamt of pulling that jersey on in a game," Jankowski said.

"It's going to be a really special moment for me. It's definitely going to be a big moment for me. Maybe during warm-up for a couple minutes I'll just take it in for a little bit.

"(But) when the puck drops for game-time it's time to play."

Jankowski, who spent four seasons at Providence College before turning pro to log eight games with Stockton of the American Hockey League last April, is in competition for a job, after all.

He wants to make his mark.

And Calgary's roster.

"When you first come here and maybe there's a little bit of nerves and it's your first time at this level … after the first few drills of the first practice you realize it's just hockey," Jankowski said. "I've been playing this game my whole life.

"You kind of calm down after that."

Andrew Mangiapane can attest.

The 20-year-old is going through his second swing at Flames camp after being selected in the sixth round (No. 166) of the 2015 NHL Draft.

He's also set to log his second-ever pre-season skate.

Both will have come in Edmonton -- in the Battle of Alberta.

Nerves are calmer this time around.

"There's a little bit of rivalry there, "Mangiapane said. "It should be a fun game.

"I don't remember much of the first game. I do remember I was excited and I still am excited today. Anytime you put that jersey on you get that sense of excitement. I just tried to go out there and play my hardest.

"That's what I'm going to go do tonight.

"I've got to play with more confidence, I'd say. Just play your game. I felt last year I was probably more nervous than this year coming in. I've just got to play my game and play hard."

Settled nerves should lead to a boost in performance.

And that's the mandate from Calgary coach Glen Gulutzan.

He wants to see more focus, and eyes less wide.

"Sometimes they come to that first camp and they're a little bit overwhelmed," Gulutzan said. "We're looking to see they've made strides, not only in their testing but the way they handle themselves on the ice and their swagger and they're a little bit more forceful.

"Instead of coming in to survive, hopefully they're coming into their second year to make an impression and to stick around."

Easier said than done.

"Hopefully that'll calm down by game time and by the time I step on the ice it'll be just another hockey game," Jankowski said. "It's going to be really exciting.

"I've been waiting a long time for this. This is cool."

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