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PROSPECT OF THE MONTH - MARK JANKOWSKI

Mark Jankowski has quickly become one of the Stockton Heat's most dependable forwards

by TORIE PETERSON @ToriePeterson / CalgaryFlames.com

January was just Mark Jankowski's fourth month of professional hockey but the pivot has solidified himself as one of the Stockton Heat's most reliable forwards, capping off the month as the team's leading scorer.

With 13 goals and 29 points, which ranks him seventh amongst all American Hockey League rookies, Jankowski has been providing plenty of offence for the Heat but his stats are only a part of the story according to Calgary Flames assistant general manager Brad Pascall.

"We've been really happy with his progress. He continues to grow as a player. He's an extremely competitive player. He wants to get better," Pascall told CalgaryFlames.com

"In face-offs, he's been bearing down. That's one area he's really improved on. Since the start of the season, he's gone from 40-odd percent to over 50 percent overall in his face-offs. That can be credited to his competitive nature and his will to get better, his will to compete on a regular basis.

"We've been really pleased with his progress. He's playing in all situations: power play, penalty kill, five-on-five. He's a player that just needs to continue to develop and continues to get better."

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In addition to pushing ahead of his teammates in the Heat's scoring race in January, Jankowski became the first player in franchise history to score a hat trick.

On Jan. 20, he potted three goals and an assist in Stockton's 6-3 win over the Bakersfield Condors.

"I was pumped. I've been there and know how exciting it is in this league to get three and obviously to be in on all three of them and to see the excitement on [Mark Jankowski's] face on that third one - it's a great accomplishment," Jankowski's linemate Hunter Shinkaruk said. "Three goals in a game is tough to do at this level and it was great to be a part of."

"My whole line was going all night, so it just made life easy to play with those two guys and it was a good feeling to help the team get the win," Jankowski added.

"It's a little different than the one in preseason, it was in a game that matters, a big divisional game for us. The big thing was helping the team win."

Jankowski's ability to produce offensively while playing a responsible all-around game has earned him plenty of praise from Stockton head coach Ryan Huska.

"You see how he can make plays with the puck and he has the ability to look people off - they'll go one direction, he'll go the other with the puck," Huska said. "He's got a lot to him and he's a guy who can help us on the offensive side but he's also committed to defending, which is something that we like."

Jankowski was also the Heat's lone representative at the 2017 AHL All-Star Weekend in Leigh Valley on Jan. 29-30. He competed in the Skills Competition and played for the Pacific Division in the All-Star Game.

According to Pascall, Jankowski's rapid development isn't a surprise. From his four years with Providence College to his first game with the Heat last spring, the organization recognized the forward's commitment to improve and drive to produce.

"He's more and more comfortable with the professional game. But in saying that, you look last year when he jumped in after his college career ... he came in on an ATO and played extremely well at the end of the season. He didn't just dip his toe in. He dove right in and competed hard. We've seen that all of this season as well.

"We're very happy with him and his progression. We're looking forward to watching him continue to grow his game."

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