Nathan Schoenfeld knows how to handle himself in an NHL dressing room.
Nathan Schoenfeld was just another 31-year-old dad giving his kids a bath on Monday night when he received an unexpected text message.
Schoenfeld, the son of Rangers assistant GM Jim Schoenfeld and a former collegiate club team goalie, was summoned by the Arizona Coyotes to serve as their emergency backup for Monday’s game against the Montreal Canadiens.
“I don’t know if I have the words quite yet,” Nathan Schoenfeld told the Arizona Republic. “It will probably take a bit to soak in.”
Schoenfeld, who works at a bank as a relations manager, hasn’t appeared in a competitive hockey game since playing for Arizona State’s club team in 2006. But his father coached the Coyotes from 1997-99, and Nathan skated with members of the NHL club last summer and occasionally practices with the team’s alumni.
When Coyotes backup Anders Lindback came up with an undisclosed injury barely an hour before Monday’s puck drop, Schoenfeld’s father-in-law — Coyotes equipment manager Stan Wilson — texted him to “pack your bag” and get to Gila River Arena as soon as possible.
Schoenfeld didn’t arrive in time to take part in pregame warmups, but he signed an amateur tryout agreement and was on the bench for the game — a 6-2 Coyotes win behind goalie Louis Domingue — in uniform No. 40.
“Traffic was pretty good. Luckily I didn’t have to break any laws to get here in time,” Schoenfeld said. “I don’t think I’m game-ready, but ready in case they need me to sit on the bench.”
Nathan Schoenfeld was giving his 5-month old kid a bath whent he Coyotes called him.
Schoenfeld added that he phoned his father on the drive to the arena to ask if any Rangers scouts would be in attendance.
“I said, ‘Well, if you do, let them know to check out the backup goaltender tonight,'” Schoenfeld said. “So he got a kick out of the call.”
“He’s a real nice person, real well-liked by the players,” Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said after the game. “He skates with the players in the summer, so it’s not as if somebody just walked in off the street. The other thing is his dad’s been around the game a long time, so he knows what an NHL dressing room is like. But it’s still fun to see a guy sit in there after the game, sit in his equipment and take it all in.”
He was such a hit with the players, that they named him game MVP and he wore the WWE-style championship belt in the dressing room after the win.
“He had the time of his life. It was great,” Jim Schoenfeld told the Daily News at Tuesday morning’s Rangers practice in Greenburgh.
The Coyotes experienced a similar emergency while in New York in 2010, signing Manhattanville College coach Tom Fenton as a backup when starter Ilya Bryzgalov became sick shortly before game time against the Rangers.
Arizona called up goalie Niklas Treutle from AHL Springfield to replace Lindback for Thursday’s game against Dallas, with Schoenfeld going back to his life as banker and dad until the next time he is needed by the Coyotes.
“I was just going to keep my jersey on and stay here as long as I could,” Schoenfeld said after Monday’s game. “But I think eventually I’ll have to go home.”
IN CASE OF EMERGENCY
Santino Vasquez, a goalie from St. Paul with just two games of Division III hockey experience, sat in a room behind the Rangers’ bench as the emergency backup for Henrik Lundqvist after Antti Raanta left injured at 13:49 of the first period. Vasquez never played, but a Wild staffer confirmed he was wearing pads under an NHL rule that now requires home teams to keep an emergency option on site. Vasquez played two games in the last three years at nearby Hamline University, according to U.S. College Hockey Online.
With Pat Leonard
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