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Friday, June 17, 2011

Yanis to be part of first Penn State class

Muskegon Lumberjacks
defenseman Mark Yanis had many suitors who wanted him to play college hockey for them and continue his promising career.

On Tuesday, he committed to Penn State University for the fall of 2012.

“I wanted to go where I could continue to the next level and make it to the NHL,” Yanis said. “(Penn State head) coach Guy Gadowsky has a lot of respect in the pro world. It rang a bell when I got to meet him personally.”

Yanis, a 6-foot-3, 200-pound defenseman who plays with edge and intensity, scored a goal and added four assists in 54 games and added an assist during the Clark Cup playoffs in his rookie United States Hockey League season with the Jacks. He was steered toward Penn State not just because of its coaching staff, but also because of the school’s outstanding academic track record. The Grosse Pointe Woods native has his sights set on getting a degree in criminal justice.

“Mark Yanis has a long professional career ahead of him, and he’ll be playing for a coach who has a proven track record of developing NHL players” Lumberjacks owner Josh Mervis said. “But more importantly he’s going to get a great education. Once he’s done playing in the NHL, he’ll have a diploma.”

Gadowsky has spent the past seven years leading Princeton's resurgence, which includes NCAA championship berths in 2008 and 2009 and the 2008 ECAC Hockey championship. He earned the Inside College Hockey National Coach of the Year Award in 2008.

Yanis was blown over during his visit to Happy Valley last Wednesday, and leaned on his advisor, parents and Jacks head coach Kevin Patrick to make his decision. He’s relieved to be committed to Penn State, which will make the transition to Division I hockey in 2012 before joining the newly-formed Big Ten Conference in 2013.

Yanis will work hard to become an even more physically imposing blueliner and emerge as a leader in his second season with the Jacks.

“I want to be a leader on this team and lead by example,” Yanis said. “I want to show the newcomers what Muskegon hockey is all about. I have a physical style and Coach Patrick preaches that if you don’t hit, you won’t be in the lineup. I’m here to be a shutdown defenseman and that’s what Penn State was looking for.”

Yanis will be eligible for next June’s NHL Draft, and he’s eager to hear his name called. He also knows how hard he’ll need to work to make that happen.

“It’ll be a big year for me, starting with the USHL Fall Classic in September,” Yanis said.

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