Two-time diamond champ Jankowski, NHL 1st rounder
* CF Mark Jankowski was the little engine that could … one of the smaller players on the field when he won the Canadian peewee championship in 2007 and the bantam title in 2009 with Ontario./Photos: Bernie Hann studios. ….
By Bob Elliott
He was 5-foot-1, second shortest player on the Ontario team and a strapping 100 pounds, when he threw out a British Columbia runner at the plate for a critical out at the 2007 Canadian peewee nationals in Quebec City.
The centre fielder knocked in the fourth run as Ontario beat Quebec 5-1 to win gold at the Canadian championship, along with the likes of Adam Anderson (centre) and Adam Hoover (right).
Two years later at 5-foot-8, he was fourth shortest and weighed 140 pounds, as Ontario beat Quebec at the 2009 bantam championship in Vaughan.
Usually he hit ninth or 10th in the order, but man could he chase down a ball in centre field.
He hit .257 in 2007 with 33 singles and two doubles. Moving to the larger diamond the next year he had 13 singles, a double and hit .175. And in 2009 he hit .218 with 19 hits, including one double.
So, what ever happened to little Mark Jankowski?
Well, there he was front and centre on TSN Friday — all 6-foot-3 of him — as the Calgary Flames first-round pick, 21st over-all in the NHL draft.
An excellent defender and later a line drive hitter, he reached another level growing seven inches in the previous two years.
There he sat between his brother David 15, father Len, mom Rose Mary, his sisters Natalie, 20 and Nicole, 19 when his name was called in Pittsburgh.
The Dundas resident attended Stanstead College private school in Stanstead, Que. and went higher than all Quebec junior league players but one. He was the seventh Ontario high school player selected.
Jankowski is not a new name to hockey: Ottawa 67’s Hall of Fame coach Brian Kilrea stayed at the Jankowski homestead, eating in perogies (“I didn’t know what they were,” said Kilrea, “but they were good.”), when not skating for the Hamilton Tiger Cubs during the 1954-55 season; grandfather Lou played 127 games in the NHL with the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Black Hawks, scouted for the St. Louis Blues, Washington Capitals, the NHL Central Scouting Bureau and the New York Rangers, son Ryan is a scout with the Montreal Canadians and Len attended the 67’s training camp before attending Cornell University.
And now along comes Mark, a nephew of Red Kelly, who scored 53 goals and 40 assists in 57 games with Stanstead.
“I guess we bucked the system,” said Len who went to Pittsburgh at the last moment, uncertain of his son being selected.
The Flames asked Len and his son to come to their hotel Friday afternoon in Pittsburgh.
“I told my wife we’d be back in 10 minutes,” Len said. “We walk in the room and it seemed like they 30 people there.”
Mark was there a long time: why Standstead?
Why commit to play for the Dubuque Fighting Saints in the United States Hockey League in 2012-13 before heading to Providence College?
Inside the room four hours before the draft were general manager Jay Feaster, assistant GM John Weisbrod, special assistant to the GM Craig Conroy, director of scouting Tod Button, area scout Mike Addesa and other.
Addesa ran a tournament two years ago in Hilton, N.H. Jankowski was the leading scorer. That earned him an invite to Hockey Night in Boston where he played against older Russians and impressed.
After all the questions in the lengthy meeting someone asked Jankowski: “how you’d like to pull the jersey over your head tonight?”
Twitter was ablaze, “at this pace in two years Jankowski will be 8-foot-6 in two years.”
Coach Bill Byckowski usually had Jankowski in centre.
Also on that Canadian peewee championship team was RHP-3B Carson Kelly, selected 86th over-all by the St. Louis Cardinals, who gave him a $1.6 million signing bonus. Kelly’s father Mike lived in Markham for two years working for NIKE before returning to Portland, Ore.
And on the 2009 bantam team was OF Nathan DeSouza (Milton, Ont.) drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays from the Ontario Blue Jays in the 26th round.
And in Georgetown, Oakville, Burlington, Mississauga and Brampton Jankowski’s former teammates and coaches smiled and celebrated.
Some even cried at the live coverage … and highlights.
They were tears of happiness.
Couldn’t happen to a nicer kid.
Tourney time: Ontario had pitching and not a lot of hitting at the Oklahoma Junior Sunbelt series. Despite leading or being tied in the fourth in seven of our eight games wins were hard to come by. Oldcastle’s Nick O’Neil and Hamilton’s Mark Sinclair both had seven strikeouts in four innings. Maple’s Marc Lepore pitch seven innings and striking out four in a 1-0 loss to Oklahoma-White. Essex’s Tyson Way pitched a complete game allowing five hits in a 3-0 loss. Way was 4-for-13 (.308) was the leading hitter, while Alex Whiteside of Mt. Albert was the next best going 4-for-19 (.210) … Keifer Quick hit a three-run homer as the Tecumseh Thunder 18s beat the Vaughan Vikings 7-4 in the final of the 16-team Vaughan midget tournament.
Upcoming: The Toronto Mets Canada Day Classic begins Wednesday at Bond Park. The Ontario Terriers 18U and 17U, Team Ontario, Windsor Selects, Ottawa-Nepean Canadians and the Mets will compete in the six-team tourney which concludes Sunday at 12:30 at Bond … The four-team 16U grouping has Ottawa, the Terriers, the Toronto All-Stars and the Mets invited to Talbot Park with the final slated for Saturday afternoon at 3 o’clock … The Constable Garrett Styles Memorial tournament takes place Sept. 21-23 in Newmarket.