While the rest of the Heat roster took the first two days of the All-Star break last week to travel home to family and/or clear their heads of the stress of the midseason, Mark Jankowski traveled to Allentown, Pennsylvania to represent the Heat at the 2017 AHL All-Star Classic.
Sure, it may have taken a day or so away from his time with his family clearing his head, but there is no doubt that Jankowski would experience the spectacle that is All-Star weekend all over again if he could.
“It was a lot of fun and it was a cool experience,” Jankowski said with a smile. “It was one of those things that you don’t get to do too often and was my first experience at an All-Star event like that. Meeting all the new guys that you’re battling against every day – it was fun.”
The 22-year-old rookie was chosen to represent the Heat this season – in no small part due to his breakout performance so far this season.
Jankowski sits atop the team’s goals (14) and points (30) rankings and it’s easy to see why the Providence College product was selected as the Heat’s second-ever All-Star, following in the footsteps of Derek Grant last year.
He participated in the puck control relay, pass and score, and the breakaway relay for the Western Conference Sunday during the All-Star Skills Competition, before joining his Team Pacific teammates for the All-Star Challenge on Monday.
When asked what his favorite part of the weekend was, Jankowski made it clear that the comradery of the weekend was what was the most fun for him.
“I’ll probably say the skills competition because we were all out there the whole time,” Jankowski explained. “In the All-Star Challenge, you pretty much stick with your team and hangout in the dressing rooms when the other teams are playing. I liked the Skills Competition because everyone is out there just having a good time, watching everyone do their stuff. It was fun.”
Adding to the fun, Jankowski and the Western Conference took home the win on Sunday, beating out the Eastern Conference 15-11 on the final scoreboard.
Monday, however, was not the same scenario as Team Pacific could not garner a single win and went 0-3 in the All-Star Challenge.
“We had a tough start and I guess we couldn’t recover,” Jankowski evaluated. “It was a short tournament – we only got three games in. It was a tough go for Team Pacific.”
Ever the good teammate, Jankowski shouldered the blame for Team Pacific’s struggles, citing that he did not bury his chances or get on the board for the left coast.
“I have to take the blame on that one and own up to it,” Jankowski admitted. “It was tough in the challenge for it not to go our way a little more, but it was still a fun time that’s for sure.”
Ultimately, that’s what it’s all about – fun.
Fortunately, Jankowski did get to spend some time with his family following the festivities and had some semblance of a break from the rigors of the AHL schedule before returning to Stockton.
“After the game I drove home with my parents and got to spend about a day and a half just at home with my family. It was short but it was still great to get that little time.”