Flyers goaltending prospect Anthony Stolarz has made the cut at USA Hockey's National Junior Evaluation Camp in Lake Placid and will likely be one of three goalies to make the 2014 World Junior team roster this December.
Stolarz, who was drafted by the Flyers in the second round of the 2012 NHL Draft, will compete with Flames prospect and current Providence College goalie Jon Gillies, as well as 2014 draft eligible prospect Thatcher Demko, for the starting job at the 2014 WJC. The tournament begins the day after Christmas in Malmo, Sweden, and the Americans are probably going to defend their gold because we're America, damnit.
Stolarz was one of four goalies who made this evaluation camp cut last year, but was ultimately the final goalie cut from the team's final pre-tournament camp in December. The USA took three goalies to Ufa, Russia for the tournament last year, however, so it's likely that Stolarz will be on the final roster that travels to Malmo since they're only carrying three goalies into the pre-tournament camp this year.
Gillies made the team a year ago, but Ducks prospect John Gibson was the starter who led the Americans to gold. Gillies played just one period during the tournament and made seven saves on seven shots. He's probably the front runner to start this year given his placement on the team last season, but Stolarz has come a long way in the last year.
As a sophomore at the University of Nebraska-Omaha last year, Stolarz found himself riding the bench pretty frequently, playing only eight games in the first half of the season. In January, he left Omaha and joined the OHL's London Knights, ultimately compiling a .920 save percentage in 20 games over the back half of the season. He was playing on the best team in the league, so take that into consideration, but Stolarz did carry the starting job into the postseason. He struggled late in the playoffs and in the Memorial Cup, however, and wound up relinquishing the job to teammate Jake Patterson.
Stolarz's late season struggles aside, though, he's still come a long way since missing out on a chance at World Junior gold last year, and depending on how he plays with the Knights in the coming season, could find himself starting for the defending champs at the 2014 WJC in Malmo.