Former collegiate goaltender Tom Fenton (2008-2009 record: 1-12-1, 3.60 GAA) was plucked from a barber's chair yesterday and whisked to Madison Square Garden to play emergency backup for the Coyotes. "Kinda thought my friends were pulling a prank," he said.
The 26-year-old local hockey coach and part time student at Manhattanville college was getting a haircut when he received a call with some unexpected news: The Coyotes, in town to play the Rangers, needed a backup goalie — and fast.
Goalie Ilya Bryzgalov had come down with the flu too late for Phoenix to call someone up from their San Antonio farm team for the night's game. Nor could they use anyone from their own staff — goalie coach Sean Burke was considered, but would have had to clear waivers. Coyotes scout Frank Effinger, a Larchmont native, knew of Fenton, who last played at American International College in Springfield, Mass.
"My phone rang, I didn't pick it up," said Fenton, who had less than three hours to get to MSG but arrived in time to back up Jason LaBarbera. "I eventually saw who it was so I picked it up after the haircut and called them right back.
"They basically said I have to get my butt down to MSG as soon as I can."
Despite the haircut holdup, Fenton told the New York Times that "they tracked some people down, and I guess I was the first to call back." (Makes you wonder what other incommunicado slackers Frank Effinger had in mind.) He told Linda Cohn that he skipped an exam for the game, but believes the sports business management program he's in at Manhattanville might somehow understand. He wore #35, held his own in warmups — "He was good. He was really good actually. It was talked about in the room, how good he was," said Coyotes captain Shane Doan — and had only one minor scare:
"I was just trying to take everything all in," Fenton said. "There was one point Barbs came across and made a pretty good save and he was kind of favoring his groin and I immediately started sweating on the bench."
And so Fenton, a Rangers fan who had intended to watch the game from his couch last night, instead got a front row view as his team came from behind to beat "his team" 4-3 in a shootout. He even got to bring home the jersey. Not a bad Thursday night.
Hat tip: Matt L.