Alex Stalock's Career Back on Track

Alex Stalock’s Career Back on Track
By: Andrew Hirsh

It’s been a difficult and unexpected year and a half for goaltender Alex Stalock.

As many fans will remember all too clearly, Stalock was victim of a serious injury in February of 2011. Manchester Monarch forward Dwight King stepped on the goaltender during play, slicing a nerve behind Stalock’s knee and creating a long detour on his path towards a full time NHL job.

But after a long, uphill battle, his career appears to finally be back on track.

While the injury was a severe one, Stalock considers himself lucky that it wasn’t worse; a similar ailment could have had far more dire and life-changing consequences. But despite such a difficult road to recovery, the University of Minnesota- Duluth product believes he’s prepared to once again to take on a full time role in the professional ranks.

“I want to get back and back to where I was before the injury,” said Stalock. “That’s going to be a huge step for me to get that confidence and get out playing again.”

Following surgery to repair the sliced nerve, doctors told Stalock that he needed a full year to recover. It wasn’t until after the All-Star break last winter that he returned to the ice, losing a significant amount developmental of time in the process.

“Last summer there was no real time to do workouts and conditioning. It was clearly a rehab summer with the injury,” he said. “And it was a slow process. On the other hand, this offseason I have an entire summer of being healthy -- in the weight room and on the ice.”

Through hard work and determination, Stalock returned to action roughly a year after the horrific injury, as predicted by doctors. It was a rollercoaster couple of months for him, as he went back and forth from the Stockton Thunder and Worcester before being loaned to the Peoria Rivermen. To make matters more frustrating for the South St. Paul native, his season was cut short in March after injuring a finger in practice.

In total, his 2011-12 season comprised of playing for three teams and just 11 games. It was not the ideal situation for Stalock, but he says it was important to get back on the ice any way he could.

“It was a learning experience,” he said. “It wasn’t the ending to the season I wanted. Coming back being injured and just getting back on the ice was great, and being able to play in February was great.”

“Playing in different cities was difficult. You don’t expect to get moved around much when you’re young. It teaches you a lot, see different organizations, it was beneficial for my career to get on the ice and get playing. But at the same time, it’s nice to be with the same team the whole year.”

Now beyond the rehabilitation stage, Stalock has put the injury behind him. While he wouldn’t put his health in terms of percentage, he firmly believes he’s ready to carry the workload again – whether that happens in Worcester or San Jose.

As part of his offseason regimen, Stalock returned to development camp in San Jose last month to get some extra work in. While he was as much as five years older than some of the prospects on hand, he believes it was a positive experience that further aided his progress.

“It was good to go out there for a week in San Jose,” he said. “It’s a long, hard week. We strictly work on skills and small parts of the game on the ice. Off the ice, we were training hard in the weight room. It was a great time for me to continue to work my way back with the organization.”

Looking ahead to the 2012-13, Stalock understands that he needs to put up a strong individual campaign to keep his career moving in the right direction. However, his biggest goal is simple: do what he can to help the team.

“The biggest goal is to get back in the playoffs,” he said. “Some of the guys on the roster haven’t been in the playoffs in pro hockey, and that’s the best time of year. You want eveyone to experience it. You want to give yourself the chance to win a championship.”

Additionally, Stalock doesn’t feel he has anything extra to prove because of his injury. He knows that as long as he’s able to go out and play his game, he’ll get the opportunity he needs to reach the NHL.

“It’s about doing your job, nothing more,” he said. “You always want to get better and improve every year. That’s how I look at it: I want to prove to myself most importantly that I’m back to playing and back to where I was before the incident.”

Having overcome so much adversity already, Stalock appears ready to return to old form. With Worcester having assembled such a strong roster already, having Stalock between the pipes could be the extra piece needed to get the Sharks back to the Calder Cup Playoffs.

Stay tuned to all offseason long for the latest Sharks news.

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