G Anthony Stolarz – Corpus Christi (NAHL)
DOB: Jan. 20/94 | Catches: L | Height: 6.05 | Weight: 201lbs
In 2011 Texas made some noise with the likes of Stefan Noesen, Colin Jacobs and Blake Coleman all drafted within the first 3 rounds. In 2013, Seth Jones is sure to be not only the highest pick ever from Texas, but quite possibly the highest pick overall. So what’s in store for 2012 you might ask? 2012 is actually looking like a bit of a “down” year for Texas related NHL Draft prospects. However, there is one prospect who should save The Lonestar State from being shutout, and when it comes to “saves”, Anthony Stolarz is no stranger.
Anthony is originally from New Jersey, and played in the Empire Junior Hockey League prior to making the move out west to play for the NAHL’s Corpus Christi IceRays. Moving nearly 2000 miles away from the “Jersey Shores” to an area known as the “Sparkingly City by the Sea” would be a daunting task for any young adult. However, Anthony is very mature and confident for his age.
To find out more about his psyche I reached out to Justin Quenneville, who coached Anthony at Corpus Christi and asked about his mental toughness and leadership skills. Justin replied,”Anthony’s toughness was prevalent the day he reported to Corpus Christi. He was a polite, mature, confident and focused for such a young player. He was first on, last off every day in practice and would work extremely hard on and off the ice. Remember, Anthony came here as a student/athlete because he was a Senior in School, so as any player that plays here knows, we have a demanding schedule with hockey, promotional events and appearances in the community. Anthony was the type of kid that represented this team with flying colors and was a true leader in every sense of the word.
Anthony’s rise to prominence began with the NAHL Top Prospect tournament where he played 2 games and gave up only 2 goals in 57 total shots. During the regular season the IceRays made a strong late push, but utlimately fell short of making the Playoffs. Anthony faced the second most shots of any goalie in the league (avg. 32 per game) and still had a fantastic 920 save percentage while also finishing with a solid record of 23 wins, 22 losses, 4 otl’s. Anthony was twice recognized with “NAHL Player of the Week” honors. Anthony was also recently invited to participate in the 2012 USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp in Lake Placid in August.
Anthony will turn 19 in January 2013 and is already an imposing figure in net at 6’5 200lbs. However, it’s the unique combination of Anthony’s size and skills that has NHL scouts most excited. Anthony is projected to go anywhere from round 3 to 7. The NHL team that takes a chance on him, might just be finding that rare diamond in the rough as Anthony has drawn comparisons to current NHL star Pekka Rinne and former NHL Hall of Famer, Ken Dryden. Coach Quenneville lists Anthony’s speed, athleticism and aggressiveness as his prominent areas of strength. Like most all young raw goalies, Anthony must continue to hone his skills and learn to master all areas of his game, such as rebound control.
He will continue his development in 2012-2013 under the tutilege of esteemed coach Dean Blais with the University of Nebraska Omaha. I asked Anthony about his thought process in choosing UNO, he replied,” Coach Blais’ track record speaks for itself. He has coached at every level and knows how to push his players and make them better so they can play at the next level. Im also looking forward to working with Coach Renfrew and focusing on the goalie aspects as well as Coach Johnson. I really liked the direction the program is going in and hope I can help them win a National Championship.”
Anthony is traveling to Pittsburgh for this weekend’s NHL Draft. He was only the player in the entire NAHL to be invited to the NHL’s pre-Draft Scouting Combine. Anthony really enjoyed the Combine process. “The Combine was a great experience. I felt I did well in my interviews and did better than I expected in the physical testing. I really enjoyed myself and met some new friends along the way. It was such an honor being invited and being surrounded by some of the best players in the world.”
Being from New Jersey, Anthony wears the familiar #29 (i.e. Marty Brodeur) and is a Devils fan, but actually patterns his game more after Henrik Lundquist than Brodeur. I asked Anthony what he thought of Jonathan Quick’s performance against New Jersey in the Finals, Anthony replied,” I thought Quick played tremendous during the Finals. He carried LA through the playoffs and kept them in games and even stole some games, and as a goalie that’s all you can do is keep your team in it and hope they score more than you give up. He deserved the Conn Smythe for sure.”