It’s normal for a draft eligible prospect to look up to those who have gone through the process before them.
But if you’re in a program that doesn’t typically carry a drafted player on the roster, it becomes difficult to lean on someone who has gone through the experience.
That isn’t the case for Evan Cowley.
Cowley, the Wichita Falls Wildcats goaltender who jumped on the map after impressive back-to-back performances at the NAHL showcase and All-American Prospect Game, has reached out to a former NAHL alum to help him through the process. That would be Anthony Stolarz – drafted last June in the second round by the Philadelphia Flyers.
“He found me on Twitter after the Prospects Game and we’ve been speaking on and off,” Cowley said. “Obviously, he’s been through the same things that I’m going through this year, so its really nice having someone like him giving you advice. The biggest thing he’s shared with me is to have fun with the process; it’s an exciting time so I should enjoy it.”
With Cowley following in Stolarz’s path, it’s natural for the two to draw comparisons. The fact that both are towers between the pipes only helps that relationship.
“We’re both big, athletic goaltenders,” Cowley compared. “Stolarz paved the road for NAHL goalies and with his play last year, showed the world that the NAHL is worthy of NHL attention, luckily for me.
“In terms of style we are very similar. Like I said before, big, athletic, with quick hands and feet. We’re both ‘self taught’ goalies, which is a cool similarity as well.”
The comparison isn’t far off according to Future Considerations’ Jedd Jones.
“He does remind me of Stolarz quite a bit, in terms of size, quickness and athleticism,” Jones said. “He is gifted with athleticism and a big long frame, is very quick, and possesses great reflexes. He has the overall size and quickness that NHL scouts love in tenders.”
And much like Stolarz was in 2012, Cowley could become a key attraction between the pipes for the 2013 NHL Draft.
You started your season with a bang at the NAHL showcase event. What was the event like and did it excite you as a kickoff to your draft year?
The NAHL Showcase was a great experience. Seeing all the talent of the players and the logos on the jackets of some of the scouts in the stands was super exciting and motivating. The Showcase allowed me to dive right in to the level of the NAHL without all the extra stuff present during games at the Jr level. It was strictly about the hockey and that helped me feel comfortable from the start.
You had a strong NAHL showcase, so much so you got the invite as a replacement for the All-American Prospects Game. How was that event different and did another level of nerves hit?
Getting invited to play in the AAPG was the biggest honor of my hockey career thus far and the weekend was unforgettable. The skill level of the players was very high, but I felt comfortable at the level and confident that I would exceed expectations. I was a little nervous at first but I just had a good time with it and I think it went really well.
Playing in a league not as heavily scouted as others, do you feel you have to do more in each outing to prove yourself to scouts and NHL teams?
Every player at every level has to prove themselves daily. I do need to take advantage of NHL’s attention, but I don’t try to “do more” during games. By playing consistently well, winning, and stopping pucks at a high level, any goalie can get attention. I need to do this in the NAHL for now and I have no doubt that it will help me out in the long run.
Are you noticing more scouts at the rink and does it put more pressure on you to be consistent?
A couple scouts have introduced themselves after games so I know there are a few watching. As a young goalie I need to prove that I can be consistently at my best and give my team a chance to win every night. Having scouts and coaches present adds to my competitive fire and will to compete harder than anyone. Yes, there is a little pressure, but being comfortable in pressure situations is a goalie’s best attribute, so its good for me to have that pressure every day.
At what age did you move to Colorado and did you ever consider the Western Hockey League as your path? Are you committed to the college route at this point?
Born in Cranbrook, B.C. I moved to Colorado when I was 5 years old, that’s when I started playing organized hockey. I was very interested in playing in the WHL up until this past summer when I discovered what the NAHL the USHL, and the NCAA had to offer. Now I can say that I’m confident in perusing College hockey as my next step, but I’m keeping my options open.