Flyers prospect Stolarz bouncing back after hip surgery

MICHAEL BRYANT / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Anthony Stolarz had hip surgery but will be in the mix to be a starter for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
MICHAEL BRYANT / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Anthony Stolarz had hip surgery but will be in the mix to be a starter for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
Posted: August 19, 2014

ANTHONY STOLARZ cannot talk about the hip surgery he had in May. He has been instructed not to discuss the nature of what the procedure entailed. What he can talk about is his future in the Flyers organization, and how he believes he will be back and better than ever.

"I'll be 100 percent, probably better than 100 percent," Stolarz said. "Looking at it, it is a thing of the past. Like Ron Hextall said, he wishes he had the surgery when he was playing. Moving forward, it is not going to hinder me or affect me. It is going to be good."

The surgery, to clean up his hip, is common among goaltenders. Flyers general manager Hextall is on the list of those who have had the surgery, and says there are no red flags in Stolarz's recovery.

"He is doing very well in his rehab and is expected to skate tomorrow," Hextall said in a statement to the Daily News.

Both Hextall and Stolarz expect a full recovery.

With the surgery behind him, Stolarz, 20, is in Voorhees soaking up all the knowledge he can in order to get better. Though he had to sit out of development camp because of his hip, he is still learning from the Flyers coaching staff about how to be a more effective goalie.

"I want to get better," Stolarz said. "I'm working on things. It was a disappointment I couldn't be on the ice with Jeff Reese at the development camp, so I have some catching up to do.

"Being on the ice the whole week and getting back into a groove and working on small things around the net and doing things that Jeff Reese taught me will help polish my game. I think it is the little things I am going to use going forward."

Stolarz, from Jackson, N.J., grew up a fan of Martin Brodeur and the Devils. He was a second-round draft pick of the Flyers in 2012, 45th overall.

Last year, he played for the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League, going 25-5-1 in 35 games. He had a 2.52 goals-against average, a .926 save percentage and four shutouts. He missed 17 games after he was cut on his leg during a game, needing 55 stitches.

In 2012-13, he played 20 games for the Knights, going 13-3-1 with a 2.29 goals-against average and a .920 save percentage, with one shutout.

"If you were to take a snap shot of where Anthony was 3 years ago to now it's pretty impressive," Flyers director of scouting Chris Pryor said. "From playing in the NAHL, to college, onto the OHL and now to pro hockey tells you about the kid's commitment to becoming a player, and him doing whatever it takes to achieve his goal."

Stolarz has very good size for a goaltender, at 6-6, 210 pounds. He believes his physical attributes make him a great prospect.

"For me, my size and athleticism are the best parts of my game," Stolarz said. "For a 6-6 goalie I move really fast. People tell me I move like a 6-foot goalie, or a 5-11 goalie.

"I think using my size to my advantage and always being in the path and getting over and getting myself in the right position to make the save are the best attributes I have."

While Stolarz obviously has dreams of making the Flyers, he knows the reality of his situation. He will compete for the starting job for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in their first year of existence after the AHL franchise moved from Glens Falls, N.Y. Stolarz is focused on not only making himself better, but helping the team win.

"It's my first pro year. Everyone looks forward to it. It is a huge step in my career," Stolarz said. "For me, it is going out there and continuing to get better. Just go and try to win as many games as we can. Moving to Lehigh Valley, having a new group of guys coming in, younger guys are coming in that I know. It is going to be a fun year and we are going to succeed the best we can."

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