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But still there were details to work out. Fenton had to be signed, sealed and delivered at the Garden by 5 p.m. _ two hours before faceoff.

Once Fenton was convinced this was legit, he headed to Rye to get his goalie gear and then needed to find his way into Manhattan. His car was out of service, so he made a frantic phone call to his roommate, who had already headed home for the holidays, to ask if he could borrow his car.

Fenton, along with Ketchabaw and a couple of people from Manhattanville, got through rush-hour traffic and arrived in New York in time for a night no one expected. In fact, Fenton skipped a final exam for this once-in-a-lifetime chance.

“They basically said I have to get my butt down to MSG as soon as I can,” Fenton said.

Fenton’s goaltending experience consists of a four-year stint at American International College in Springfield, Mass. He won 14 of 81 games with a 3.87 goals-against average _ including a 1-12-1 mark with a 3.60 GAA in the 2008-09 season.

When he strolled into the Coyotes‘ dressing room with his equipment, the ribbing started in full force.

“One of them mentioned I have to change my stick immediately,” Fenton said. “I have a yellow stick from my college days, and they said that wasn’t going to fly. They quickly gave me a stick. There was a couple of more jabs.”

His pads and mask were given the OK. Fenton donned a No. 35 Coyotes sweater with his name on the back _ a nameplate, not stitched _ but his mask sported the No. 30 and the colors of his college club.

Although he and his new teammates knew he wouldn’t be with the Coyotes even as late as the time the bus left the Garden, for one night he was one of the guys. An NHLer for a few hours.

“It was good. It was fun,” Coyotes defenseman Derek Morris said. “We were all kind of a little bit confused as to what went on there, but he did a good job. He came in, he had a good attitude, he was fun to be around, he was quiet. He took it with a grain of salt and had a good time with it.”

Fenton was interviewed on both the Coyotes‘ and Rangers‘ telecasts and became an instant hockey sensation as the game went on. There was a brief moment when it appeared LaBarbera might have been injured, but any anxiety quickly passed.

“I wasn’t even trying to think about that,” Fenton said of the possibility of playing. “I was just trying to take everything all in. There was one point Barbs came across and made a pretty good save and he was kind of favoring his groin. I immediately started sweating on the bench.”

Until then, the only thing Fenton marveled about was how good the ice was at the Garden.

“I wasn’t expecting that to be honest with you,” he said. “It was great. This whole place was electric. I know we always say that cliche, but once you’re out there, it’s a totally different experience. Words can’t really describe it.”

While unique, the situation isn’t unprecedented.

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