Shaking off the rust.
Philadelphia Flyers goalie product Anthony Stolarz made his season debut last night with the Reading Royals on a conditioning stint, and it was obvious he had some rust. The 24-year old stopped 30 of 35 shots in an overtime loss in his first game since last April.
It was a back-and-forth game, with the Royals and Fort Wayne Komets exchanging goals before the Komets took the lead midway through the third period. Adam Schmidt tied it for Reading with five minutes remaining, but Zac Larraza scored to win it for Fort Wayne in overtime. With 10 games remaining, the Royals are in third and are 13 points clear of fifth place in the North Division.
The first goal Stolarz let up cannot be pinned on him. The Royals did not see Curtis Leonard breaking into the slot, and Stolarz couldn’t make a point-blank save.
The second goal came off a defensive breakdown. Frank Hora and Charlie Vasaturo crossed paths and lost the puck in the defensive zone. Gabriel Desjardins flung the puck to Dennis Kravchenko all alone in front of the net, and he made a great move on Stolarz.
Stolarz will not be happy with the third goal he let up. Garrett Thompson wristed a shot from the circle and it squeaked through Stolarz’s equipment. Kravchenko was there to push the puck over the line.
The fourth goal was a mix of Stolarz’s rust showing and the Royals having another defensive mishap. The puck couldn’t be handled by Vasaturo and it slid through to Stolarz’s glove. He wasn’t able to hold on to it, and Artur Tyanulin swung the puck into the net.
The Komets won in overtime after Larraza walked into the circle and beat Stolarz underneath the glove.
It could be argued that Stolarz can’t be blamed for at least three of the goals he gave up, but Wednesday night was more about him getting back into action. To even give the Royals a chance to win a game late in the season after missing 11 months is remarkable on its own. After the game, Stolarz said, “I felt a little rusty. I think my timing was a little off. Eleven months. It’s going to take a little while to get back. I’ve got to work real hard.”
Jason Guarente, the main Royals beat writer for the Reading Eagle, reported that Stolarz may get the start on Saturday as well. If he is able to keep getting starts in Reading, his rust will begin to wear off quickly.
Photo by Heather Barry/Sons of Penn