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Jankowski ready for opportunity in front of him

The forward received his first NHL call-up on Friday

by Torie Peterson @ToriePeterson / CalgaryFlames.com

BOSTON, MA -- When Mark Jankowski walked into the Calgary Flames morning video session, Glen Gulutzan noticed a bit of hesitance.

Jankowski, fresh off his first recall from the American Hockey League's Stockton Heat, wasn't sure if there was a seating plan or not.

"The first thing I said to him was, 'You can sit wherever you want, Janks. You don't want to wait for everybody to sit down.' I think he ended up sitting close to the front," Gulutzan chuckled.

"He didn't know where to sit there in the room when the video was on. He was like, 'Is there assigned seating?' You can just see [the excitement] in his eyes. It's neat. It's neat for our guys too, our veteran guys. They all remember ... every guy I've talked to, they remember their first time when they were called up. It's neat to see. It gives the group a little bit of juice."

With Kris Versteeg being a game-time decision tonight in Boston, the Flames summoned Jankowski from Stockton to ensure they have enough hands on deck. He isn't expected to play this evening, with Hunter Shinkaruk slated to dress if Versteeg is unable to go, but Gulutzan didn't rule out the possibility of Jankowski getting into one of the club's upcoming games.

"You won't see him tonight. That's clear. You won't see him tonight," Gulutzan confirmed. "We're still not 100 percent sure on a couple things in our locker room but … we've got Shinky here still and he'll probably figure into tonight and then we're waiting on another couple of things.

"We had Steeger go off in practice yesterday and we wanted to make sure we got someone who has been real consistent down there so Janks got the call to come up. We have three games left on the road trip here and we'll see where everything slots in. We've got a few things going on in the locker room, we've got one game-time decision tonight."

Just 13 games into his rookie professional season, the St. Catherines, ON product has three goals and 12 points. The former first round draft pick is tied for the team lead in points and put together a seven-game point streak earlier this year.

"He's been very consistent throughout," Gulutzan surmised. "He's a real good distributing centreman, which I think is important for our group. Going forward here in the future with Calgary, to have a big, tall centreman that has got good hockey IQ and is a good distributing centreman is good for any organization."

Even though he may be a bit wide-eyed in the wake of his first NHL recall, Jankowski is aware of the opportunity in front of him. He has the chance to make an impression on the coaches and management, even if it's just in practice, and show the organization he's ready to play at this level.

"It's huge. Ever since I got that call, it's been really exciting for me. To be here and whether I do or don't get in the lineup - waiting for that time - I'm really excited for it.

"I think I've had a pretty good start to the season down in Stockton. I think with my play, I got rewarded here. So I have to take advantage of it. Everyone gets called up for a reason. For me, I have to play my game. I think if I do that, then I'll be good."

Even though he isn't playing this evening in Boston, he'll have his family on hand to celebrate this milestone with him. After he was able to get in touch with his parents, they started preparing to make the journey to catch up with their son in Boston.

"The first person I called was my mom. I thought her and my dad were going to be together so I was going to tell them at the same time. They were both in Florida and my dad started flying back so I couldn't call my dad for awhile because he was in the air.

"I told my mom and then eventually I called my dad then I called my brother and my sisters. It was a really special moment for everyone."

For Jankowski and the organization, today's recall is over four years in the making. Drafted 21st overall in 2012, he was dubbed as a long-term project pick by then-general manager Jay Feaster. While he was still very raw back in his draft-eligible season, the team saw big potential in the lanky pivot who had torn through the 2011-12 season with 53 goals and 93 points in 57 games with Stanstead College, a prep school in Quebec.

He headed off to Providence College at the start of the 2012-13 season and would end up spending four years under Friars bench boss Nate Leaman. In 148 games in the NCAA, he scored 43 goals and 110 points and helped the Friars capture the 2015 NCAA Championship.

After his collegiate career came to a close, he played in eight games with the Stockton Heat at the tail-end of the 2015-16 season on a tryout agreement. In total, Jankowski has skated in 21 AHL games and has five goals and 18 points in that stretch.

"It's been a crazy journey," he remarked. "Ever since I got drafted here in 2012, it's been a great experience for me. Going to college and getting those four years there, I think it really helped me and my development. Going into Stockton at the beginning of this year, I felt like I had a really good start and our team as a whole had a really good start there. I think I'm definitely ready to make this jump.

"Everyone develops differently and at their own pace. I think for me, I've always stuck to that and just stuck to what I needed to do at that time."

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