I'm pretty sure I don't have to litter this space with superlatives about former UMD goalie Alex Stalock. You've probably read them from me already.
The one-time WCHA superstar hadn't seen the light of the NHL day since turning pro after the 2008-2009 season. He set the AHL rookie record for wins by a goalie last year, helping the Worcester Sharks to the second round of the AHL playoffs.
This year, the Sharks are floundering around the playoff cutoff, just like their NHL parent Sharks are. With Antero Niittymaki still injured, Stalock was brought back to San Jose for Tuesday's game against Phoenix. This time, his destiny wasn't to sit and watch as Antti Niemi got a win.
Instead, Stalock got the call about midway through the game, as the Sharks were lifelessly trailing 3-0 and in desperate need of a spark.
Stalock would give them that spark. Here is the game highlight video from NHL.com.
Stalock didn't have to make any highlight-reel saves among his nine stops, but he kept Phoenix off the board, allowing the Sharks to come back.
Not a bad debut. Zero goals allowed, and your first NHL win. Stalock talked about the game with the Sharks website.
“You don’t have time to get the nerves going,” Stalock said. “You just get thrown right in there. You’re just watching the game. You’re not in it at all. It’s a shock (to go in like that), especially when it’s your first one.”
In a way, though, it probably wasn't a bad thing for Stalock, who had his parents in the stands. He's such a fiery competitor that there's a chance he benefited from not having all day to think about his NHL debut. It just happened.
Meanwhile, his impact is still felt in Duluth. Fourth-year junior Kenny Reiter spent two years with Stalock at UMD, and he learned from the former All-American.
"Obviously, his ability to play the puck, I think that's really important in today's game," Reiter said Tuesday. "I tried to take a few things away from him with that. But for the most part, just his compete level, and just to see how much he wants to win every game, night in and night out."
The Sharks play Wednesday at Anaheim. No word on who will start in net.