Mark my words: In two years Alex Stalock will be the starting netminder for the San Jose Sharks.
Who, you ask?
How could Alex Stalock be the starter for the team with the second best record in the National Hockey League when few know his name outside the American Hockey League, you ask?
He won’t be unknown for long.
Selected by San Jose in the fourth round of the 2005 draft, Stalock has improved every year.
A Hockey’s Future staff writer wrote in 2005, “South St. Paul and Cedar Rapids down, Team USA, UMD and San Jose to go.”
As a freshman at the University of Minnesota, Duluth, I watched Stalock provide confidence for a struggling Bulldog team competing in the WCHA, college hockey’s most competitive division.
Stalock’s freshman stats weren’t anything to write home about, but he had mojo. I saw something in his game that told me this kid had a bright future, and he had the credentials.
He led his high school team to the semifinals of a 2004 Minnesota State Tournament, where he was named to the All-Tournament Team.
At the USHL Championship Stalock posted a .950 save percentage and a 1.44 goals-against average in nine playoff games with a record of 7-2.
As a Sharks fan since hockey entered my consciousness, I watched Stalock end his college career by becoming just the third UMD goalie to ever start every game.
In his second and third seasons, he compiled goals against averages of 2.35 and 2.13 and save percentages of .914 and .924, respectively.
In his final season of college hockey, Stalock was named the MVP of the WCHA tournament after leading the Bulldogs to the WCHA title. On the way he beat the powerhouse Colorado College, Minnesota Golden Gophers, North Dakota, and Denver programs.
That year he led the Bulldogs to the NCAA (frozen) March Madness regional final before falling to the Miami of Ohio RedHawks 2-1 on a controversial call.
But enough about his past—what about his present?
Stalock set an AHL rookie record for wins this season, leading the baby Sharks to the second round of the Calder Cup playoffs after Worcester set a team record for wins.
His coaches took note of Stalock’s competitiveness, fire, and charisma. They also communicated his coachability and that he always wanted to do the extra work to be a better goalie.
“He’s definitely a very athletic goalie, butterfly style, very aggressive, and likes to move the puck and headman it up the ice,” said his high school coach. “There haven’t been too many Minnesota high school goalies who could do that.”
He’s been similar to Marc-Andre Fleury this year; he doesn’t always put up sparkling stats, but when his team needs a big save, Stalock is there.
Keep a lookout for Stalock in next year's San Jose training camp—he won’t be stuck in the AHL for long.