Stolarz First New Jersey-Born Goalie to Play in the NHL
VOORHEES — Anthony Stolarz has been thinking about Sunday for a long, long time.
He didn’t know it would be this Sunday or any Sunday or any of the first 26 games across six recall stints that he’s sat on the Flyers’ bench as the backup goalie. He just hoped and waited patiently.
There’s a big difference between being the first player on the ice, as the starting goalie, and the last one. Against the Calgary Flames Sunday he’ll be the first one and make his NHL debut. It’s something he’s replayed in his head since he was much younger.
“It would be exciting, especially in front of the home fans,” said Stolarz, who turns 23 in January. “Like I’ve said all along, I want to contribute to this team. I’ve been around them a long time the last three years and have gotten close with a lot of them.”
Selected in the second round of the 2012 draft, the Edison-born player will be the first goalie from New Jersey to play in an NHL game.
“There’s another goalie drafted, Joe Pearce (selected in the fifth round of the 2002 draft by the Tampa Bay Lightning) who played with my brother,” Stolarz said. “It’s exciting. New Jersey is a growing hotbed for hockey players. There’s a number of my buddies still in college playing and obviously a couple pros with (Sewell native Anthony) DeAngelo and Joey Masonius got drafted this year (a Spring Lake native taken by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the sixth round). It’s exciting to represent the state like that.”
He’s also excited to represent the Flyers. This is his seventh recall over the last three seasons and he’s gotten close to thinking he was making his NHL debut before, especially when the Flyers played back-to-back games. Just like the most recent case in Florida this week, the other goalie took both of them.
“They’ve told me to be ready, be prepared,” Stolarz said. “I kind of just do the same thing, try not to psych myself out or anything. I’m a mellow guy.”
The 6-foot-6, 220-pound goalie fills the frame of what a prototypical NHL goalie is these days: a huge body that can move well from post to post, cover a lot of net and be agile enough to move his head and track the puck through traffic.