Tuesday, September 18, 2012

WCHA Instant Impact: Anthony Stolarz (UNO)

The Instant Impact series resumes with Nebraska-Omaha freshman Anthony Stolarz.

Previous Entries:
Joey Benik, SCSU
Blake Tatchell, UAA
Hunter Fejes, CC
Nic Kerdiles, UW

Anthony Stolarz, G, Nebraska-Omaha
Vitals: 6' 6" - 220 lbs - 1/20/1994
Hometown: Jackson, NJ
Previous Team: Corpus Christi (NAHL)

Nebraska-Omaha was hit with a variety personnel departures this off-season. They lost two of their top three scorers to the professional ranks (Terry Broadhurst and Jayson Megna), a prized recruit (Alex Broadhurst) opted to play Canadian major junior hockey after not qualifying academically, and Ryan Massa, who had established himself as the team's number one goaltender by season's end, is taking the 2012-13 season off for personal reasons. 

They return their top scorer from a year ago in Matt White, who will be charged with leading the Mavericks' young offensive attack, while a pair of incoming freshmen (NHL draft picks Brian Cooper and Nick Seeler) will be expected to bolster a veteran group of defensemen. However, the departure of Massa has left the UNO goaltending situation a bit muddled. Veteran netminder John Faulkner saw his numbers take a significant dip last season, while sophomore Dayn Belfour played in just six games as a freshman, appearing in just two after the holiday break. Option number three is incoming freshman Anthony Stolarz, who just might be the guy to clear up Nebraska-Omaha's goaltending concerns.

Stolarz arrives at Nebraska-Omaha following a NAHL season that saw his name vault from obscurity into prominence. The big netminder (6' 6" and 220 lbs) used an open tryout to win a roster spot with the Corpus Christi IceRays, an opportunity he eventually parlayed into a second round selection at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft (Philadelphia Flyers). 

During the 2011-12 season, he posted a 2.84 GAA and .920 Save Percentage while facing nearly 35 shots per game as the IceRays' workhorse in net. When asked how Stolarz handled the heavy workload, Corpus Christi head coach Justin Quenneville replied, "Anthony is a machine. There were several nights I thought of resting him because of our schedule, and then he would go out and make 40+ saves while showing no signs of fatigue. He is extremely well-conditioned for a goaltender and will bring the same consistent work ethic night in and night out for his team."

Anthony not only possesses incredible size, but he is also an athletic goaltender whose strongest assets as a hockey player, according to Quenneville, are his work ethic and aggressiveness. His former coach went on to say that Stolarz "is a tall goaltender that covers a lot of the net, and Anthony's athleticism and speed are extremely impressive for a goaltender of his size. He is an exciting goaltender to watch because of his ability to make big saves, especially when most think they have him beat."

Stolarz will be making the jump from the NAHL to a premier NCAA conference as an 18 year-old freshman, and Quenneville points to the goaltender's maturity, work ethic, and competitiveness as qualities that will enable him to succeed at the next level. "Anthony is an extremely mature young man who is so focused for an 18 year-old. He was constantly approached by scouts before and after games last season, while never losing focus on his game. He will bring an immediate presence with him to UNO." A presence Maverick fans, no doubt, are hoping will solidify their team's goaltending position.

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