Standing 6-foot-5, weighing 200-pounds, and having the acrobatic abilities of a goalie half his size, it’s easy to see why NHL scouts are salivating at the thought of drafting Anthony Stolarz.
The Edison, NJ. native has been intriguing to say the least after a great season for his Corpus Christi IceRays of the NAHL. Stolarz went a solid 23-22-4 in 50 games for a club that finished with a losing record, put up three shutouts, a 2.84 goals against average and sparkling .920 save percentage.
Last season, he posted a 12-4-0 record with the EMJHL’s New Jersey Hitmen, while putting up a 2.99 GAA and .902 save percentage. In 2009-10, he had a remarkable .926 save percentage and 2.36 goals against in 19 games for his New Jersey Jr. Devils Midget club.
Along with possessing excellent size and athleticism, the hybrid butterfly goalie challenges shooters exceptionally well, is strong with his lateral movement, has tremendous rebound control, is good at anticipating the play, and with his quickness he always has a chance to make the save, and never gives up on a puck. Stolarz has so much potential, to go with an abundance of skill, that should ensure he becomes an impact guy between the pipes in the NHL in the not too distant future.
I had the chance to catch up with the talented 18-year-old netminder, for quick Q and A.
You’re a New Jersey boy, so does that mean your a Devils fan? And, what got you started playing the game of hockey?
Anthony: Yes, I am a New Jersey Devils fan, I grew up idolizing Martin Brodeur. My older brother played hockey, and he was a goalie, so I would always go to his games and I just became so fascinated that I wanted to play. I wanted to follow in his footsteps.
Who has been the biggest help and influence in developing your game so far?
Anthony: My father and older brother have been my biggest help. I never had a goalie coach, so they would just correct things I would do wrong as I go and I did my best to master them.
You are a big guy, and play the butterfly style to perfection, but you are also very athletic and capable of making acrobatic saves, what do you see being your best attributes as a netminder?
Anthony: I mean being 6’5″ is quite an asset to have as a goalie, but my competitiveness is my best attribute. I never give up on a play and do what ever it takes to make a save.
Is there a goalie in the NHL you style your game after?
Anthony: Pekka Rinne, a goalie who is similar in size, and is an athletic goalie.
What was your ‘welcome moment’ to the NAHL?
Anthony: In my first game I remember the physicalness being something I was never used too. Guys would skate in and out of the crease, bumping me, it was something I had to get used to.
Texas is known more for it’s football, so how was hockey life down in the Gulf of Mexico with the Corpus Christi IceRays, and how did the opportunity to play there come about?
Anthony: The community in Corpus Christi was very supportive of us. We would have 3,000 fans at our games, and that was something that would motivated the team knowing we had our city behind us.
I played for Hockey Essentials in the summer, and they recommend me to the coaches in Corpus so I went to an open tryout camp in Albany, and then got invited to the main camp in Dallas, and the rest is history.
What is the highlight of your young career?
Anthony: Being on the NHL draft list. Last summer I made the Preliminary List and kept trying to improve, so hopefully I work my way up.
You are committed to the University of of Nebraska-Omaha for next season, what made you choose the Mavericks program?
Anthony: I felt very comfortable with the UNO staff. They were persistent in their effort to recruit me, and that meant a lot. I am looking forward to working with Coach (Brian) Renfrew and Coach (Dean) Blais.
A lot of guys like to talk trash on the ice, especially at the tenders, what is the funniest chirp you’ve ever heard while playing?
Anthony: Early in the year I had blue pads that were pretty small on me, so guys would just chirp me for that.
Who, in your opinion, who has the hardest shot you’ve ever faced?
Anthony: When I played for the New Jersey Jr. Devils, Kyle Palmeiri would practice with us occasionally. I think he definitely has the hardest shot I have faced.
Do you have a game that stands out as the best one you’ve ever played?
Anthony: When I was younger I played in the Quebec Peewee tournament, we played a Quebec team that were considered the hometown team, and we played them to a 1-0 loss. But, that was probably the most fun I have had in a game, especially playing in front of 6,000 fans.
A lot of goalies are seen as being superstitious, do you have any rituals you go through before or during the course of a game?
Anthony: I always put my right side on first.
What is the worst goal you’ve ever surrendered?
Anthony: In midgets the opposing team took a shot form the opposing blue line and it hopped right over my outstretched pad.
What do you like to do in your downtime from hockey?
Anthony: Workout, and play other sports for fun.
Any hidden talents?
Anthony: (Ha/ha) None, just stopping pucks!