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THE LITTLE JANKOWSKI

A spitting image of big brother Mark, David Jankowski also plays a similar style of game

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames / CalgaryFlames.com

The resemblance is uncanny.

On a spitting image-calibre level. Positively brotherly, in fact.

"Yeah,'' admits David Jankowski with a resigned smile. "I get that a lot."

Stroll past and you do a double-take.

He could be a Mini-Mark. Or a Janko Jr.

"I guess we were like most brothers,'' says Mark Jankowski, the Flames' emerging force up front of his younger sibling. "He and I are only three years apart. We have a really close relationship.

"Growing up we'd always be at each other's games. And, I guess, at each other's throats. We had our battles, definitely.

"We're both really competitive. It's gotten to the point we can't play video games against each other because it's … too much. Those arguments get too heated because we're both grown up.

"So we play online or NHL EA so we can be on the same team.

"But that competitiveness, it creates a brotherly bond."

Jankowski the Younger is out at WinSport this week for development camp after agreeing to an amateur tryout contract, donning the Flaming C logo his big bro modelled through a 17-goal NHL rookie campaign last year.

"Even growing up I was always smaller than him, being younger,'' says David. "I don't know if he took it easy on me because of my size back then but I like to think he didn't, that it was a pretty even battle."

A superb season with the Central Canada League's Jr. A Hawkesbury Hawks - 38 goals and 90 points in 60 starts - has put Jankowski on any number of pro radar screens.

"To play my 20-year-old year season in Hawkesbury was really beneficial,'' he reflects. "I was able to get a lot better and lot more confidence. Hopefully I'll be able to step into a bigger role at St. Lawrence than I would've a year before."

In this town, the surname, of course, precedes him.

In fact, the kid brother spent some time following Friday's skill development/off-ice workout signing a few signature 77 jerseys.

All in the family, you understand.

"I didn't get a chance to come to Calgary a lot but to see that, pretty cool,'' says David. "Having his name, his number on the back of that jersey is pretty special to see."

In the season curtain-dropper on April 8, of course, Mark lit up the Vegas Golden Knights like The Strip on a Saturday night for four goals.

"I'd actually just got home after (my) season (ended), turned on the TV to watch,'' confesses David. "I had to go to the bathroom and I came back and there was already two.

"And I'm like: 'Geez, what did I miss? This is gonna be a good one.'

"So I saw the rest. I saw it all."

Among the interested watching No. 46 intently at WinSport these days, count Mark Morris, the next person in charge of Jankowski's ongoing development, entering his first season as head coach at St. Lawrence.

"In researching David's hockey resume, I realized I played against his dad,'' notes Morris, Craig Conroy's college mentor at Clarkson U many moons ago.

"He was at Cornell and I was at Colgate. So there's a familiarity there.

"I think for David it's just a case of getting used to the pace and adding strength. He's got a high hockey IQ. The puck seems to follow him around. He's got a great set of hands. Sees the ice extremely well.

"I'm sure having a big brother that plays in the National Hockey League, being able to follow him around the weight room will be be really advantageous.

"I coached in the American Hockey League for 10 years, so I know everyone has a different maturation rate. Some guys hit stride early, with others it takes a little more time. When you see his kind of hockey IQ, that's the stuff you can't teach.

"For him, in my opinion, it's just about letting mother nature take its course.

"It's just going to happen.

"It's just going to evolve."

Among the most important tips the look-a-like kid brother is learning from his first-hand role model would be, first and foremost, patience wedded to self-belief.

Mark was drafted as a high-schooler, subjected to his share of outside doubt, and persevered to reach his destination.

"It (the pressure of expectation) was always there, ever since he was drafted,'' says David. "Maybe less and less as he went on, progressed.

"He was always good at blocking that out. We told him: We're going to be behind you all the time. It's going to be a long process.

"It was all him. He was really good at keeping cool. He had a plan from Day One. And I'm really happy it's working out for him.

"In today's world, everyone wants instant results. It's a challenge at times. Everything's go, go, go. But you've just got to stay patient and work through it.

"I'm a late bloomer. Kinda like him. And for me, that's huge. He's a real reference point.

"I'm just trying to stay on my track."

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