Stolarz Still Waiting For NHL Debut

Saturday, April 9, 2016
Anthony Stolarz has returned from Philadelphia without making his NHL debut for the seventh time in his career. Photo: Nina Weiss/The Home News
Anytime a player gets called up to the NHL for the first time, the obvious thought of what it will be like to make that coveted NHL debut enters the player's mind. Re-assigned to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms after his seventh recall to the Philadelphia Flyers in his two-year pro career, promising goaltender Anthony Stolarz still hasn't experienced his first NHL action.

While he wouldn't admit to any disappointing feelings of watching Steve Mason play every night, Stolarz couldn't help but to shrug his shoulders and smile when asked about not being able to make his highly anticipated Flyers' debut in his latest stint with the NHL club.

"I mean, you can't really get frustrated," the Flyers' 2nd round pick (45th overall) in 2012 said Friday night in Wilkes-Barre, his first game back with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. "Obviously this time around with games being so important for them you kind of know what to expect going in."

Stolarz served as the Phantoms' backup goaltender Friday night and again sat on the bench, but that was by design according to Phantoms' head coach Scott Gordon who later confirmed Stolarz will get the start in net tonight at home against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers - his first action since March 18th.

"For me, it was taking it day by day and trying to prepare myself and get ready," Stolarz recalled of his last few weeks with the Flyers. "I think this time, out of any other time, I felt the most prepared if my name was called. I don't think there would be any lack of confidence. I think I'd be ready to go. Still looking forward to [my NHL debut]. Just being up there, it's a good experience. Use those things and bring that back down here."

Even with the addition of Ray Emery to the fold, Stolarz said he didn't feel slighted or that the organization showed a lack of confidence in his abilities. According to him, it was a necessary move given the circumstances.

"They just had to cover their bases with LaBarbera being out for the year," Stolarz explained. "If Mase or I got hurt over that little stretch, they didn't have anyone. They kind of had to do that, they needed a third goalie in case something happens when you're on the road. You can't just sign a guy and bring him into, say Detriot, if something were to happen at an away game. Nevuirth came back and that's the reason I was sent down."

Now back on the Phantoms with five games left on the AHL club's regular season, Stolarz's focus is solely on putting forth a good effort every night he's in net in the final two weekends of the season.

"The guys are rolling right now - five in a row - so we're going to look to keep that streak going this weekend against Bridgeport," Stolarz said, adding, "I think for me, before I got called up I was playing pretty well and I kind of just want to take that and finish off the year on a good note."


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