Friday, January 17, 2014

Stolarz suffers nasty skate-cut injury, leaves game

Thanks to James Centifonti and Rogers SportsNet
This is something you never want to see or hear about, no matter how you feel about a player's choices to reach the pros.

In Friday's Ontario Hockey League contest between the London Knights and Saginaw Spirit, Knights goaltender and 2012 Flyers draft pick Anthony Stolarz had to be escorted from the contest after being struck in the left leg by a skate in a goal-mouth collision.

The contest was halted with 3:47 gone in the scoreless first period, as Stolarz departed on a stretcher, with blood from a cut staining the ice.

From the game story in the London Free Press:  "After Stolarz was run into by Eric Locke in his crease, Knights defenceman Dakota Mermis came to his netminder's aid and jousted with the Spirit captain. Locke's skate blade made contact near Stolarz' left ankle and the Philadelphia Flyers' prospect went immediately to the ice, writhed in pain and left a lot of blood in the blue paint in front of his net. 

"London physiotherapist Doug Stacey applied pressure to the United States world junior goalie's leg with a towel and Knights support staff called for additional assistance. Stolarz was removed from the ice by stretcher and gave Mermis a quick tap with his hand as he headed for the hospital."

Jake Patterson subbed in net and the game resumed minutes later, but the Spirit came away with a 3-1 victory.

Those of us old enough recall the first and goriest goal-mouth skate-cut incident, when Sabres goaltender Clint Malarchuk had his jugular vein accidentally sliced in a collision with Steve Tuttle of the St. Louis Blues in March of 1989.

Coming into the contest, the 19-year-old native of Central New Jersey was 21-4-2 with a 2.59 goals-against average and three shutouts while stopping pucks at a 92.5-percent success rate.

He managed to Tweet an update while at hospital: "At the hospital now. Thank you all for the kind words. Nothing too serious and I'll be looking to get right back on the as soon as I can."

The young man is very lucky. It could have been a situation like the one Phantoms player Kyle Wellwood faced last season, when a skate blade cut into his leg and caused one of the bloodiest scenes many have ever witnessed along with a blood-soaked hockey sock and skate.

Despite Ontario Hockey League's suggestion that goaltenders wear cut-resistant gear, it doesn't appear from the picture, or the video, that this was the case.

"I know Ron Hextall talked to him, word is that he was extremely lucky," said Flyers GM Paul Holmgren. "He just missed a lot of important parts in there. [It took] 55 stitches to close the wound, I don't know if you guys read that, but once that heals he'll be just fine. There were no arteries (cut), no achilles tendon, it just missed the major artery. I don't know if you've seen the video, but there was a lot of blood for not hitting an artery.

Up until last night, Stolarz had been rolling in clover since leaving Nebraska-Omaha for the OHL, landing in a ready-made situation with a stacked team put together by the Hunter family. The Knights won the league championship last season and participated in the Memorial Cup, won by the Halifax Mooseheads from the QMJHL.

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