This weekend presents another tough test for the Massachusetts hockey team when it welcomes Providence to the Mullins Center.
Although the Friars lack the notoriety of the previous Minutemen (2-4-0, 1-4-0 HEA) opponents in New Hampshire, Boston University and Boston College, PC does have a secret weapon at its disposal: freshman center Mark Jankowski.
Jankowski was selected 21st overall by the Calgary Flames in the NHL draft this June. And so far, he’s lived up to the hype, putting together an impressive freshman campaign so far for the Friars (4-3-1, 3-2-0 Hockey East Association) with his three goals and four points.
Two of Jankowski’s goals came in his first ever collegiate game on Oct. 12 when the PC defeated Sacred Heart 8-2. On Nov. 2, he scored the game-winning goal at the 4:19 mark in the third period against Vermont, which helped propel his team to a 3-2 victory.
UMass coach John Micheletto has his hands full preparing for Jankowski, who Micheletto is impressed with as a player.
“He’s obviously a gifted playmaker,” he said. “He’s got a good feel for the game. He knows when he’s accepting pressure and he finds guys away and when he’s under pressure and when he doesn’t, he slows it down and is effective in the one-man game as well. So he’s a good player and we have to make sure that we are on honoring him.”
Despite Jankowski’s abilities, Micheletto also stressed the importance of not focusing on one player.
“We can’t just put all of our focus onto him,” Micheletto said. “He’s certainly a good prospect for them and has proven to be a good college player at this point, but we won’t specifically game plan anything against him.”
Not only is Jankowski a good prospect for the Friars, he may be one of their most highly regarded of all time. He’s the third PC player to be drafted in the first round since 1992.
Prior to being selected in the first round of the draft this June, Jankowski played prep hockey in Quebec for two years for Stanstead College Prep. When he was drafted, he became the highest player to be drafted out of a Canadian Prep School.
In his senior season with Stanstead, he scored 53 goals, 40 assists and 93 total points. As a junior, he scored 31 goals, 42 assists and 73 points. He was named Rookie of the Year as a junior, and team MVP during his senior season. Jankowski even had nine points in a game once for Stanstead, six of which came from goals.
It’s safe to say that playing hockey is in Jankowski’s blood. His father Len Jankowski played college hockey at Cornell from 1979 to 1982 and his great uncle Leonard Kelly played for the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs.
Jankowski comes to the Mullins Center Friday night with quite the pedigree, and UMass junior defenseman Joel Hanley is happy to welcome him and the challenge he presents.
“I heard he’s a really good player,” he said. “We’re really excited to have him come in and help us move forward as a team.”
As for how Hanley intends to prepare for Jankowski and the Friar’s offense, he said it’s just like any other game.
“If they have a good offense we have to be prepared to be good defensively,” Hanley said. “We have to stick to our game plan, which is getting pucks deep and just playing fast. So no matter what they bring our way we are going to be prepared.”
Cameron McDonough can be reached at email@example.com and followed on Twitter @MDC_McDonough.