Photo: ESPN.com

If you live in the east and support the American Hockey League, there’s a large chance that you’ve seen former Worcester Sharks goaltender Alex Stalock in action, protecting the pipes with brute force. If you’re an avid National Hockey League fan, you’ve probably seen the often underestimated abilities of the 26-year-old Sharks netminder.

The San Jose chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association has nominated Stalock for this years Masterton Trophy race. The Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy is perhaps one of the more exciting awards given at the climax of the season. The nominees have gone above and beyond, often battling back from injuries and proving to the hockey world just what strength, dedication and perseverance to the game embodies. Stalock exemplifies those qualities perfectly, so it comes as no surprise to Sharks fans that the St. Paul, Minnesota native is placed in the running.

“Stalock suffered a potentially career-threatening knee injury on February 4, 2011 playing with the Worcester Sharks against the Manchester Monarchs during an American Hockey League (AHL) game. The injury, which required two rounds of surgery and a long rehabilitation process to learn how to walk properly again, caused Stalock to miss almost 12 months of action until he played in another hockey game.

Stalock returned to the ice on Jan. 21, 2012 with the Stockton Thunder, San Jose’s ECHL affiliate at the time. Stalock posted a 5-1-0 record as well as a 2.83 GAA and .914 SV% in six games for Stockton before being reassigned to the AHL.

Following his stint in Stockton, Stalock split time between Worcester and the Peoria Rivermen (AHL). He played in five AHL games before falling victim to another season-ending injury-this time, a broken finger sustained in warmups on April 5, 2012 before a game with the Texas Stars.

A summer of rehabilitation and strength-building in his knee followed however, eventually leading to a successful 2012-13 campaign. Stalock posted a 2.60 GAA and .912 SV% in 38 games for Worcester, earning a callup to San Jose where he made two appearances in relief.

This season, Stalock has played in 22 games for San Jose, compiling a 11-5-2 record, 1.91 GAA, .930 SV%, and two shutouts. He also set a new Sharks franchise record for longest consecutive shutout streak, posting 178:55 of scoreless play from Jan. 5 at Chicago to Jan. 27 vs. Los Angeles.”

The trophy was first presented in 1968 in honor of Bill Masterton, who passed away after suffering a game injury on January 15, 1968. The winner is selected from a poll of the 30 chapters of the PHWA at the end of the regular season and a $2,500 grant from the PHWA is awarded annually to the Bill Masterton Scholarship Fund, based in Bloomington, Minn., in the name of the winner. The Minnesota native would be a perfect addition to the already exemplary roster of past Masterton winners. The winner will be announced at the annual NHL Awards in Vegas on June 24th.

Winter was hooked on hockey by age 6, when she first witnessed a bench clearing brawl between the Boston Bruins and the Ottawa Senators. Growing from hockey fan to hockey player, Winter followed her passions by founding The Pink Puck. While she also loves fashion and the outdoors, hockey will always be her center ice. Email: winter@thepinkpuck.com Twitter: @Winter_Adams

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