- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 16, 2016

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) - Nathan Schoenfeld was bathing his 5-week-old twin boys when he received a text from his father-in-law. A rush of adrenaline flowing through him, he turned to his wife and told her he had to leave immediately.

“You’re leaving me with the twins?” Colby Schoenfeld asked him.

Don’t worry, he told her. I’ll get your mother to come help with the twins.

The NHL was calling.

A 31-year-old bank relations manager, Schoenfeld played out every beer league player’s dream when he was called to serve as the emergency goalie for the Arizona Coyotes against the Montreal Canadiens on Monday night.

Schoenfeld didn’t have to stop any pucks, but he did get to skate on the ice briefly and sit on the bench in full gear as the Coyotes rolled over Montreal 6-2 for their first season sweep of the Canadiens in 36 seasons as a franchise.

“I don’t know if I have the words quite yet,” Schoenfeld said after the game. “It will probably take a bit to soak in. Just go home and sit with my family and just enjoy the night.”

Schoenfeld was called into duty when Anders Lindback, backup to current starter Louis Domingue, suffered an Achilles tendon injury before warmups had even started.

NHL rules require every team to have a list of backup goalies in case of an emergency injury and Schoenfeld was on Arizona’s list. With no chance to bring up a goalie from the minors, the Coyotes told Schoenfeld to get to the arena right away.

Schoenfeld quickly packed his gear, gave his father a quick call and, after a bit of weaving through unusually light traffic because of the holiday, arrived about 30 minutes before Monday night’s game. That gave him just enough time to sign an amateur tryout agreement, suit up and get to the bench for the game’s start.

“Obviously, it’s pretty special,” Coyotes captain Shane Doan said. “I’ve known him for a long time - he’s my banker - and it was fun to be in the room with him.”

Schoenfeld knows the NHL well.

His father, Jim, played 11 seasons with Buffalo, Boston and Detroit, and coached four different teams, including the Coyotes from 1997-99. He became the New York Rangers assistant general manager in 2007, replacing Don Maloney, who left to become the Coyotes GM.

Nathan Schoenfeld naturally followed his father’s passion for hockey, playing goalie for Arizona State’s club team until 2006.

Though he never played professionally, Schoenfeld remained attached to the game, skating with the Coyotes during their offseason workouts at the Ice Den in Scottsdale. He also has been a goalie for Coyotes alumni games, most recently last week, and is the son-in-law of Arizona equipment manager Stan Miller.

Still, the thought of ever setting foot on the ice during an NHL game never really occured to him; it takes an extraordinary set of circumstances for an emergency goalie to get the call.

“We laughed about it and joked how rare it is for something like this to happen, but it came about so it’s definitely fun,” Schoenfeld said.

On the way to the game, Schoenfeld called his father and jokingly asked if the Rangers were going to have any scouts there.

“They might want to keep an eye on the backup goaltender,” he told his father.

Once the game started, Schoenfeld sat in the traditional backup goalie’s spot at the end of the bench, wearing a black team hat and full gear. He was there to high five players as they came past after each of Arizona’s season-high six goals, but for the most part he kept to himself.

“You can see there’s a little kid in him that’s coming out; he’s got a smile on his face as the action is going,” Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. “I was trying to hear if he was yelling at the other players or chirping anybody, but he was pretty quiet out there.”

Schoenfeld originally planned to take Tuesday morning off and go into the office in the afternoon, in part so he could relive his “Rudy” moment. Instead, he was back on the ice for practice with the Coyotes.

No, he didn’t earn the permanent job. Arizona recalled Niklas Treutle from Springfield of the AHL and he couldn’t get to Arizona in time for practice, so Schoenfeld’s dream continued at least another day longer.

With Mike Smith skating as he returns from abdominal surgery, Schoenfeld’s chances of another call-up seem pretty remote.

Then again, so did the first one. Either way, he’ll be ready to go at a moment’s notice - even if it means leaving the baby bathing to his wife again.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide