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Stoll big part of Oilers' success

by Staff Writer / Edmonton Oilers
Jarret Stoll has 10 points in the postseason after registering 68 points in the regular season.

by John McGourty

EDMONTON -- There are a lot of reasons why the Edmonton Oilers are in position to win the Stanley Cup this season, among them the rapid development of young forward Jarret Stoll, the Oilers' second-round choice, 36th overall, in the 2002 Entry Draft.

Stoll is in his second full season with the Oilers, sandwiched around a year with the AHL Edmonton Road Runners. A rugged 6-foot-1, 201-pound center, Stoll played all 82 regular-season games and 22 Stanley Cup Playoff games. He had 22 goals and 46 assists in the regular season and finished plus-4. That included a big four-point night against the St. Louis Blues in November and an important three-point night against Calgary in December. He also had four game-winning goals.

Stoll has four goals and six assists in the playoffs, including two assists at important points in the Stanley Cup Final against the Carolina Hurricanes. Although the Oilers have been outscored 16-11 in the Final, Stoll is plus-1. After the Oilers took a 3-0 lead in Game 1, the Hurricanes roared back with four-straight goals. Stoll then had the assist on Ales Hemsky's game-tying goal and wasn't on the ice for Rod Brind'Amour's game winner. He also assisted on Sergei Samsonov's goal that put Edmonton up, 1-0, in Game 4.

Stoll had a strong junior career with the Kootenay Ice and put himself in good position for the Entry Draft by scoring 40 goals and adding 66 assists in 2000-01. After another season in juniors, Stoll advanced to the AHL and put up 21 goals and 33 assists for the Hamilton Bulldogs. In his NHL rookie season, Stoll impressed with 10 goals and 11 assists in 68 games. Then came the work stoppage. For young players trying to secure a position in the NHL, it came at a bad time.

Among the words you most don't want to hear are, "Son, we're doing this for your own good." The Oilers assigned him to their AHL affiliate, the Edmonton Roadrunners. It might have been the best thing that could have happened. Rather than struggle against older veterans, Stoll got a chance to dominate and play in all situations. It benefited not only Stoll, but the Oilers.

"That's very possible," said Edmonton coach Craig MacTavish. "He played the point on the power play last year and came in seamlessly this year and played the point on our power play."

"I played in all situations last year and getting the confidence from that really helped me for this year," Stoll said. "As a result, I learned a lot from facing a lot of different situations. One of the things I learned was not to panic in new situations. It was good to get that confidence last year, going into this year. It was tough for a lot of guys not to be playing."

Among his attributes that have served him well and will continue to so is that Stoll is an eager learner and a brain-picker of his older teammates and coaches. They all like him and he holds a strong position in the dressing room and on the ice for such an inexperienced NHL pro.

"You have to learn a lot. Every year, you learn new things, different things," Stoll said. "The lockout year with the Edmonton Roadrunners helped me learn a lot about being a better professional, on and off the ice, in terms of taking care of yourself. Being a leader on the AHL team helped me learn a lot in those ways.

"I've learned a lot from the veteran leaders on this team, the core group of guys have helped me learn a lot this year. Just in these playoffs, it's amazing how much I've learned. Hopefully, there will be many more playoff years to come, but we're not done by any means."

"He's been a huge part of our team's success," said captain Jason Smith. "We see the way he's developed as a professional and his commitment to his all-around game has really changed since he first came into the League. As a rookie, you don't really know what is expected of you and what role you're going to get an opportunity to fulfill. He plays in all aspects of the game for our team and is someone who is relied upon. He's accepted that challenge in whatever role he is given."

Stoll had a great foundation, growing up in and around Melville, Saskatchewan. His dad was a good all-around athlete and became a local sports coach. Tim Stoll is a big, rugged defenseman who played with childhood friend, Brian Propp, on the Melville Millionaires, a top Saskatchewan youth-hockey organization.

"They were teammates on the Melvin Millionaires and they played ball together. They pretty much grew up together," Stoll said. "Yeah, Dad is bigger than me. He was always my coach until Midgets. He was definitely a hard coach. Dad was one of those guys who didn't take too much lip out there, he worked you hard and he was a very disciplined guy, a really driven guy. I learned a lot that way. He helped me a lot to get where I am today. We had fun and we had great teams. When you dad is your coach, you want to do well for him. That's just the way it was."

Tim Stoll is just as unfazed as his son by the Oilers' predicament. As a show of confidence, Tim Stoll flew from northwest Canada Wednesday into the teeth of a real hurricane (OK, big tropical storm) to show his support.

Jarret Stoll had 74 penalty minutes during the regular season, holding his ground. Now, you know where he got that toughness.
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