GLENDALE, Ariz. - Nathan Schoenfeld got the chance to serve as Arizona Coyotes backup goalie against the Montreal Canadiens on Monday after Anders Lindback sustained a lower-body injury during an off-ice activity prior to warmups.
With starter Louis Domingue the only healthy goaltender on their roster, the Coyotes called on Schoenfeld, who played for Arizona State University's club team and more recently in a local men's league.
"This was incredible," Schoenfeld said after the Coyotes' 6-2 win. "It's going to take a little while for it to soak in that this all really happened. Five weeks ago, my wife delivered twin boys, and tonight I'm on the bench as the backup goalie in an NHL game. Pretty good year so far."
Schoenfeld, 31, is the Coyotes' local emergency goalie. He was home with his family about an hour before game time when his father-in-law, Arizona equipment manager Stan Wilson, told him he was needed at Gila River Arena.
"I got a text from my father-in-law saying, '[Lindback] might be hurt, pack your bag,'" Schoenfeld said. "I told my wife, 'I have to go, I'm going to play.' She said, 'You're leaving me now, with the twins?' And I said, 'I'll call your mom, she can come and help.' I got here a half-hour before the game, just in time to get dressed and sit on the bench and enjoy the win."
On his way to the arena, Schoenfeld called his father, who is a New York Rangers senior vice president and general manager of their American Hockey League affiliate.
"I asked him if the Rangers had any scouts at the game, and if you do, tell them to check out the Coyotes backup goaltender tonight," said Schoenfeld, who later received the pro wrestling-style championship belt the Coyotes give to their player of the game after a win. "He got a kick out of it and he called (Arizona GM Don) Maloney, and they had a good talk about it."
Coach Dave Tippett said Lindback's injury appears to be "very serious." Disappointed to lose his backup goalie, he was happy for Schoenfeld.
"He's not a stranger. He's been around and in the summer he skates with the guys," Tippett said. "But (tonight) you can see there is a little kid in him that was coming out, he's got a smile on his face as the action was going. I was trying to hear if he was yelling at any of the other players or chirping at anybody, but he was pretty quiet out there."
It wasn't the first time the Coyotes have had to dress an emergency backup under Tippett. On Dec. 16, 2010, Tom Fenton, a 26-year-old graduate student from Manhattanville College, dressed as the backup to Jason LaBarbera when starter Ilya Bryzgalov became ill.
NHL.com's Kevin Woodley recently wrote about what it's like to be an emergency backup goaltender in his weekly Unmasked column.