When Tom Fenton heard his cell phone ring while getting his hair trimmed on Thursday afternoon, he ignored the call, waiting for his barber to finish with the cut. When he listened to the voice message from the Phoenix Coyotes asking him to sign a one-day contract as a backup goaltender, he thought it was his friends prank calling him.
Luckily, Fenton called the Coyotes back and it wasn’t a prank.
With their starting netminder Ilya Bryzgalov out sick with the flu, the Coyotes needed a backup goalie for their game at Madison Square Garden. Unable to get a backup flown to New York from their AHL affiliate in San Antonio in time, the Coyotes started searching the area.
They came across Fenton, a 26-year-old graduate student and hockey coach at Manhattanville College in Purchase, N.Y. Fenton played at American International in Springfield, Mass., but never played past the collegiate level. Needless to say, he leapt at the chance to join the Coyotes in New York City.
“They basically said I have to get my butt down to MSG as soon as I can,” Fenton told reporters, according to NHL.com.
Jason LaBabera played the entire game against the Rangers, but Fenton said it was a thrill just sitting on the Coyotes bench and practicing in warmups. He enjoyed it much better than the final exam he skipped to get his first, and perhaps only, shot at the NHL.
“It was great. This whole place is electric,” he said. “They always say that cliche, but once you’re out there it’s a totally different experience. Words can’t really describe it.”
The Ontario native didn’t care what his 24-hour contract was worth when signing.
“Oh, I don’t know. I just signed the paper,” said Fenton, whose contract was nothing more than an unpaid try-out. “I don’t care if there is anything involved there. Great story just to go home with for Christmas.”
To hear more about Fenton’s incredible story, check out the interview below.