StaTuesday: Stalock latest Minnesotan to play for Wild

St. Paul native and Minnesota Duluth alum Alex Stalock returned to the State of Hockey last week, and made an immediate impact for the Minnesota Wild.

Following a strong season in the AHL, Stalock looked sharp in his return to the big leagues, making 18 saves on 19 shots and backstopping the Wild to a 5-1 win over the Ottawa Senators.

It was his first start in over a year, a journey that you can read about here.

He was solid again in the follow-up, surrendering a pair of quick goals late in the first period, before stoning the Nashville Predators the rest of the way in a 3-0 loss.

But while Stalock was sent back to the AHL on Monday, there’s every reason to believe his demotion could be temporary.

Backup Darcy Kuemper has struggled this season, but cannot be sent to the minors due to waiver rules, while Stalock’s promotion left the Wild’s AHL affiliate without their starting goaltender.

Iowa lost two games in Stalock’s absence, virtually eliminating them from the playoffs with just seven games to go.

If Kuemper continues to struggle Stalock could find his way back to St. Paul in time for the playoffs, but with the AHL season hanging in the balance and Kuemper locked in one way or another, sending him back down for some extra reps was a practical move.

By every count we can find, he’s the 22nd Minnesotan to suit up for the Wild in the team’s 17-year history, and just the second goaltender.

Check out the full list below, as well as some interesting facts about these local NHLers.

PLAYER HOMETOWN POSITION
Keith Ballard Baudette D
Stu Bickel Chanhassen D
Brian Bonin St. Paul D
Ryan Carter White Bear Lake F
Matt Cullen Virginia F
John Curry Shorewood G
Tom Gilbert Bloomington D
Darby Hendrickson Richfield F
Sean Hill Duluth D
Jordan Leopold Golden Valley D
Mike Lundin Burnsville D
Jeff Nielsen Grand Rapids F
Jarod Palmer Fridley F
Zach Parise Minneapolis F
Mark Parrish Edina F
Nate Prosser Elk River D
Chad Rau Eden Prairie F
Jordan Schroeder Lakeville F
Wyatt Smith Thief River Falls F
Alex Stalock St. Paul G
Jeff Taffe Hastings F
Erik Westrum Minneapolis F

NOTES:

— Bonin, Nielsen and Hendrickson were the first Minnesotans to play for the Wild during their inaugural season back in 2000.

— Hendrickson scored the first goal in Xcel Energy Center history on Oct. 11, 2000. He retired in 2007, and is now an assistant coach in the Wild organization.

— Stalock is just the second Minnesota-born goalie to play for the Wild. Curry made four appearances for the Wild from 2013-15, making 73 saves on 82 shots.

— Leopold’s daughter (Jordyn. Fun, right?) sent the Wild a letter sometime during the 2014-15 season asking that they trade for her dad, who played for the Columbus Blue Jackets at the time. “Well my dad is very lonly [sic] without his family,” she wrote. They agreed, sending defenseman Justin Falk and a fifth-round pick to Columbus in March 2015.

— Parise switched from No. 9 to No. 11 after signing with the Wild, taking up the same number that his father J.P. Parise wore while playing for the Minnesota North Stars.

— Parise attended celebrated prep school Shattuck-St. Mary’s in Faribault, piling up 178 points in just 67 games during the 2001-02 season.

— Four of Minnesota’s five Division I college hockey teams are represented on the list. Minnesota (Ballard, Bickel, Hendrickson, Schroeder etc.), Minnesota State (Carter), St. Cloud State (Cullen, Parrish) and Minnesota Duluth (Stalock) are all here. They’ll soon be joined by Gophers captain and Lakeville native Justin Kloos, who signed with the Wild last week.

— Rau spent time playing in Europe after leaving the AHL in 2014, and now plays for the KHL’s HC Kunlun Red Star, China’s first major pro hockey team.

Statistics courtesy of Wild.NHL.com, Hockey-Reference.com, and HockeyDB.com