Abbotsford’s Mackenzie Skapski dressed for his first NHL game for the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night — and his parents, Traci and Denis, were in the stands cheering.
Despite the short notice, they weren’t about to miss his first NHL appearance — even if that meant a harried rush from the Valley to Manhattan.
The 20-year-old goaltender was called up by New York after Vezina-winning starting goalie Henrik Lundqvist was injured after taking a puck to the throat during a game on Saturday.
Skapski’s parents got the exciting news from their son on Tuesday while they were shopping at Ikea. Immediately, they booked their airline tickets over the phone and returned to Abbotsford and packed their bags in 15 minutes.
They then sped to YVR and barely made their flight.
On Wednesday, shortly before the puck dropped for the Rangers game against the Boston Bruins, Traci told The News by text “this is a whirlwind and so exciting.”
She also relayed a welcome-to-the-pros-kid story about “Mack” arriving in the Rangers dressing room.
After Skapski began to unpack his goalie gear, the equipment manager asked him what he was doing.
“I’m unpacking,” said the young goalie, as relayed by his mother.
The equipment manager stopped him.
“You’re in the show now,” he said. “Leave it alone.”
Ranger backup netminder Cam Tablolt got the start against the Bruins on Wednesday night and Skapski, wearing jersey No. 70, served as his backup and was on the ice taking shots during warm-ups.
Skapski, who played for the Bantam AAA Abbotsford Hawks, had been playing with the New York’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Hartford Wolf Pack.
In 24 games with the Wolf Pack this season Skapski has a record of 12-7-3 and a 2.38 goals against average. His .914 save percentage and his two shutouts tie him for fifth among AHL rookie goaltenders.
He debuted in the AHL Oct. 24 against Albany and he posted his first AHL win – a shutout – on Oct. 26 against the Norfolk Admirals.
Skapski played for the Kootenay Ice of the Western Hockey League and was selected by the Rangers in the sixth round, 170th overall, of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.