Friday, November 06, 2009

Stalock Popular in Worcester

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- During his three years at UMD, goalie Alex Stalock brought a lot of emotions from Bulldog fans. For the most part, he made them very happy by keeping the puck out of the net, and for helping lead UMD to the NCAA quarterfinals last year.

Shutouts on back-to-back nights at the Final Five -- while allowing one goal over three games -- probably didn't hurt.

He also infuriated fans at times by not controlling his emotions very well, and by wandering to play pucks they would rather he had left alone, no matter the end result.

In the end, though, Stalock was an impact player for UMD, just like everyone involved in his recruitment thought he would be.

He's now moved on to the Sharks organization, and he's off to a great start there.

(You can follow the stats for Stalock and all other former UMD Bulldogs in pro hockey by clicking here.)

In fact, it seems they like him a good deal in Worcester, home of the Sharks' AHL affiliate.

Stalock has posted superb numbers so far, with a save percentage over .920 and his goals against under 2.00. His coach is pleased.

“Right away,” Sommer said, “you could see what a good athlete he was, and that he had a real competitive nature, too — one of those guys who hates getting beat, even in practice. Most goalies are competitive, but they don’t all show it. He’s like (Evgeni Nabokov) — you can really see it.”

... Stalock’s competitiveness is obvious just from his body language during a game. He’s also easy to notice because he likes handling the puck, and does it well, something no Sharks goaltender up until now has been able to do. Greiss, Dimitri Patzold and Taylor Dakers were all scary trying to play the puck, but Stalock is evolving into a third defenseman.

“I’ve never coached a goalie who plays the puck as well as he does,” Sommer said. “I’ve seen some, but never coached one.”

High praise for a young goalie. It has to be a good sign for Stalock that he's already considered the top goalie in the AHL, as the Sharks have quite the glut of goalies in their system. Stalock could be setting himself up for an NHL opportunity quicker than most of us thought.

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