Anthony Stolarz of Philadelphia Flyers to be First NJ Born Goalie to Start in NHL
Anthony Stolarz, of the Philadelphia Flyers, is set to make history on Sunday by becoming the first New Jersey born goaltender to start in the National Hockey League.
While head coach, Dave Hakstol has not officially confirmed the decision on who he will have between the pipes for the Flyers, some of the other players have indirectly done it. Having recently been recalled from the Lehigh Valley Phantoms of the American Hockey League, for a seventh time, Stolarz may finally be able to show the Flyers what he can do between pipes on Sunday against the Calgary Flames.
The Edison, New Jersey born and Jackson, New Jersey raised Stolarz said, “With New Jersey, not being such a hockey hotbed, it is nice to see the recognition now, there are 10 rinks within 40 minutes of my house. For me to be the first goalie, it is exciting.”
Flyers veteran netminder, Steve Mason told CSNPhilly.com, “Everybody is excited for him. He has been called up numerous times. Over a quarter of the year, he has been called up and is waiting for a shot. This year, especially, he looks like a different goaltender in net. He has put a lot of work in. He is ready for it.”
Mason continued, “I hope he does well, gets a win for the team. I told him just have fun. It is a big deal because you worked your entire life to get that first NHL start.”
While Hakstol has not told him that he will be between the pipes, Stolarz did say that he expects to have many friends and family in attendance at the Wells Fargo Center on Sunday night.
He said, “It would be exciting in front of the home fans. Playing in front of the home crowd, I have been in several games where you get to see the atmosphere. Compared to other buildings, it is a tough place to play. If you are on the Flyers, it is exciting and gets you pumped up.”
His teammates showed their excitement for the netminder, but also know he is in tough spot with the Flyers having lost the last three out of four games.
Wayne Simmonds said, “We have got to be sharp in front of him; I am real excited for him. Stolie has been real patient and done his work. When you are young, you must wait your turn and finally, it is his turn.”
In talking about the communication with between the defense and goaltenders, Radko Gudas said, “Communication should not change for us. Stolie has been around awhile. He knows what the calls are. He has been watching Neuvy [Michael Neuvirth] and Mase the last two years. We want to help him out.”
Jakub Voracek added, that up front the emphasis would be to avoid turning the puck over and buckle down defensively early on, so that Stolarz can get comfortable between the pipes.
Being the largest goalie in the Flyers system, at six foot six, Mason noted the bigger goalies take time to figure out how to use their size to their advantage. Mason said, “Because he is such a big guy, it takes a while to move those moving parts and learn how to use them in a controlled manner. This year he is much more controlled. He is explosive.”