Photo Credit: Zach Hill/Philadelphia Flyers
Eric Semborski started his Saturday like any other Saturday working for the Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees as Hockey Programs Coordinator. He had four youth hockey clinics to help teach, along with running a youth roller hockey clinic. It was during his work with the Flyers Rookie Program, teaching kids ages four through eight, when a series of events changed his day in ways he could have never expected.
“Jay (Voorhees Flyers Skate Zone GM Jay Freeman) was trying to contact me while I was on the ice, and then Barry Hanrahan (the assistant GM of the Philadelphia Flyers) came down from upstairs and started asking me questions.” Eric said recalling the beginning of his day. “He asked me a couple of questions about my hockey experience and I then asked him why he was asking and he said it was because Chicago is looking for a goaltender.” This was at 11am. The Flyers vs Blackhawks game was starting at 1pm…….
Eric wasn’t quite sure if this was actually happening, and he was not expecting to face shots from even the kids he was teaching, so his goalie pads were at home. He sprinted out of the Skate Zone and then while on his way to get his equipment, he got a call from the Blackhawks, telling him to get to the Wells Fargo Center because they needed him to be their emergency backup goaltender. Their normal starting goaltender, Corey Crawford, had an emergency appendectomy earlier that morning and was unexpectedly unavailable.
Two hours after he was teaching kids at Skate Zone, he was taking warm up shots from Patrick Kane and the rest of the Chicago Blackhawks team with thousands of people watching. “That was super cool,” said Eric Semborski, “it was definitely the hardest shots I’ve ever faced.”
By signing an amateur tryout contact, Eric was not paid for his one game experience in the NHL. While he did not get into the game, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenville said after the game that if the Flyers would have scored an empty net goal to make it 4-1, he would have put Eric in for the last minute. He did however receive a bunch of gear and, after he had his first ever interview session with a dozen reporters, the Blackhawks gave him a signed Crawford goalie stick signed by the entire team.
The next day, after being a trending topic on Twitter the day before, Eric was back at Skate Zone working. His email box was full of congratulations from all walks of life, including many of the dek and roller league players he helps administrate. Sitting back in his office at Flyers Skate Zone, Eric summed up the experience by saying, “It’s still a surreal experience, but it’s certainly something I’ll never forget.”
Below are some of articles and social media posts about Eric’s day as a Chicago Blackhawk:
Plus, here's selected tweets about Eric's day: