PITTSBURGH -- A year ago at this time Anthony Stolarz was on the hunt for a new home after being cut by two Eastern Junior Hockey League teams. One year and a long journey later, he was selected by the Philadelphia Flyers in the second round of the 2012 NHL Draft.
Stolarz landed with the Corpus Christi Ice Rays of the North American Hockey League after attending an open camp and played 50 games for them this past season. From there he was ranked No. 4 among North American goaltenders on Central Scouting's final rankings and was the only player from NAHL to be invited to the NHL Combine. That opportunity was the best marketing campaign for him.
"I think it helped," he said. "It was an honor to be invited. I just wanted to help me anyway I could. I just tried my hardest in the interviews. It looks like everything worked for me."
The goal for Stolarz wasn't an eye on the NHL. He was aiming for a college scholarship instead. You can have all the confidence in the world in thinking someday you might reach the big time, but after getting cut from two Tier III Junior A teams right before your draft year, reality does tend to take over.
Did Stolarz even think last summer that he'd be at the NHL Draft today? "To be honest, no."
Stolarz is currently committed to the University of Nebraska-Omaha next season under the tutelage of Dean Blais. After the combine, he flew from Toronto to Omaha to start his training.
The 6-foot-5, 200 lbs. netminder idolized Martin Brodeur growing up as a New Jersey Devils fan, but says he likes to model his game after Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators.
"I'm a big goalie and I like to use my size to my advantage," he said. "By challenging out, you take off more of that angle, so by coming out more there's less room for them to shoot at."
Stolarz grew up in Jackson, N.J., which isn't a far drive from the Flyers' practice facility in Vorhees. After 18 years of Devils fandom, as of this morning that's all changed.
"Looks like I'm a Flyers fan now," he said.
Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy