PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Flyers practice rink employee Eric Semborski almost got to experience his first NHL action. Almost.
The Bloomsburg native was informed he would be needed as the Flyers’ emergency goalie two hours before Saturday’s game against the Devils, with starter Steve Mason ill. Anthony Stolarz was serving as the backup to Michael Neuvirth and Semborski was the third man up.
During the first period, Neuvirth collapsed on the ice and had to be taken to the hospital. Semborski was watching the game in the press box at the time as the “just in case” goalie. His equipment was in the trunk of his car!
“I just wanted to get down there as fast as I could,” Semborski told Angelo Cataldi and the 94WIP Morning Show. “It was a weird situation just because of the way [Neuvirth] went down. So, I guess tensions were kind of high and then seeing him down there getting worked on, that was pretty scary stuff.”
Listen: Eric Semborski on the 94WIP Morning Show
Stolarz finished out the majority of the game for the Flyers, which eventually ended up being a 3-0 victory. However, with 24.5 seconds to play, Flyers coach Dave Hakstol tried to get Semborski his first NHL action. Unfortunately, after Semborski got on the ice, the Flyers were informed he would only be able to play if Stolarz were injured.
“That was a class act by Coach Hakstol there to try and get me out there and I thanked him and the Flyers for doing that,” Semborski said. “I enjoyed the crowd cheering me when I came out and they got some nice boos when I had to leave. So I thought that was pretty awesome for them for wanting me to stay out there. I gave them a little wave, that’s something I’ll always remember.”
If Stolarz would have been late to the arena or unable to play for any reason, Semborski would have been an NHL goalie for his favorite team. He came that close.
“I mean, it was nuts,” he said. “I was close anyway, at the end, but thinking I might of had to go in and play most of the game after him that’s just a crazy thought to me. And I guess it’s probably good for the Flyers that [Stolarz] got there in time.”