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Claimed:Winter Has Arrived Final 6/6

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Winter Has Arrived


Although he's enjoyed a long career in the VHL, Tony Stark has never been one to stick around for long or even to be more than a role player for each team he's been apart of.  Selected with the fourth overall pick by the Dynamo back in the Season 35 Entry Draft, many envisioned stardom for the young German defenseman.  And after a tremendous rookie season in which he scored 64 points in 72 games while playing solid defensively, it appeared he was well on his way to perhaps even exceeding his potential.  Yet that off-season, he was traded along with two first round picks for Davey Jones as the Dynamo looked to make a Continental Cup run.  But just 45 games into a disappointing sophomore season, Stark would head to his third VHL team - the VHL Americans, a team with which he would spend the next two and a half seasons.  With the Americans, he would continue to fail to play at the same level he did his rookie season, scoring just 102 points in 171 seasons.



Stark burst onto the VHL scene in Season 35 as one of the league's top rookies


The Americans eventually cut ties with the veteran defenseman, sending him off to the Calgary Wranglers for rookie defenseman Jack Ryan and a second round pick.  Not expecting much out of Stark aside from filling a significant hole on the blue line, he logged the third most minutes of anyone on the team, leading the Wranglers with 54 assists while scoring 75 points in just 72 games.  He also displayed strong defensive play, picking up 120 hits and helping Calgary to the playoffs, where they eventually were defeated by the Bears in the first round.  Nonetheless, Tony Stark seemed to have been reinvigorated, his play reminiscent of his superb rookie season with Davos.  As a result of his season, the Wranglers gave Stark a three year extension that would keep him locked up through Season 42, his final season of VHL eligibility.


Stark's next season with the Wranglers was tumultous as he was largely ineffective despite receiving plenty of opportunities to shine.  Many questioned his commitment, wondering if his previous season's performance was simply due to it being a contract year or if it was all just a fluke.  Although the Wranglers as a whole had a tremendous season, securing the third playoff position in the North American Conference, Stark certainly did not.  Coming off a career year, Stark posted just 40 points, one more than his career low of 39 while scoring just 6 goals, easily a career worst, to go along with a miserable 1.86% shot percentage.  His defensive game faltered as well, failing to even come close to the defensive statistics he put up in the previous season.  And he did not improve in the playoffs, either.  Despite a surprising first round upset over the Quebec City Meute in seven games, Stark struggled and managed only 3 points in 12 playoff games.  It seemed as if he would be like so many that came before him, a player once highly regarded who only faded into obscurity, never truly playing at the high level so many had expected from him.



Stark was unable to live up to expectations with New York, forcing him to answer difficult questions about his place in the VHL.


Yet this year, it seems as if something has clicked for the aging defenseman.  Perhaps a result of experience, luck, being in the right place at the right time, or a combination of all three, Tony Stark is, for the first time, playing like a truly elite defenseman.  Through 42 games, he  is the only defenseman in the VHL to rank among the top ten in points for defensemen, shots blocked and hits.  In fact, he ranks among the top four in each of these categories and is pacing scoring for his position with an impressive 58 points through 42 games, more than the likes of pre-season Labatte Trophy favorites Matt Bentley and Mason Richardson.  Stark's incredible play has helped the Wranglers to what is currently the third best record in the league and should help Calgary continue to secure their place in the standings and hold off the surging young Legion, who sit at fourth in the conference.  No Wrangler has more minutes than Stark this season and it is no surprise why - he very well may be the key to their cup hopes.



Tony Stark is finally coming into his own with the Wranglers and is looking to help lead his team to the Continental Cup this season.


Some still call it a fluke.  Other see it as a talented player finally meeting expectations.  Whatever it is, Stark has played at tremendously high level this season and has not slowed up against all odds.  This journeyman may have finally found his place in the league and, if all continues, his place in VHL lore and he should be the unquestioned favorite in the race for the Sterling Labatte Trophy as the league's best defenseman.  It has taken four different teams and seven seasons and while his season has left many dumbfounded, Tony Stark is the real deal and is no longer a player opponents can take lightly - winter has arrived.

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Content: 3/3 - Interesting decision to write about Stark. It's funny that at about the time you wrote this, Stark got traded away from Calgary. He certainly has been tearing it up stat wise this season for some reason.


Grammar: 2/2 - 


apart of = a part of

third VHL team - the VHL Americans = third VHL team - the New York Americans     :facepalm: 

Other see it as a talented player = Others see it as a talented player 


Appearance: 1/1 - Looks good


Overall: 6/6


Final: 6/6

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