Hockey warmups always have a little bit of danger to them, with every player on the ice having their own puck, and everyone skating around all at once — but it’s really organized chaos. It’s not like everyone is shooting on the goalie at the same time.
Still, the danger is there, and on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden, Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov was scratched from his scheduled start after taking a puck up high during warmups.
That’s… just not a thing that happens. Varlamov saw the shot coming, was squared up to it, and it just… went right up to his mask. Varlamov was able to get up and get off the ice under his own power, accompanied by trainers, but was ruled out of the second game of the season after opening the campaign with a shutout of the Rangers on Thursday night.
With Varlamov out, Ilya Sorokin stepped in to make his much-anticipated Islanders debut. A third-round pick in the 2014 draft, Sorokin played the last five seasons with CSKA Moscow in the KHL, with save percentages of .929 or better every year. Sorokin also won a gold medal with the Olympic Athletes from Russia in the 2018 Pyeongchang Games.
The MVP of the 2019 Gagarin Cup playoffs and a five-time All-Star in Russia, Sorokin finally signed with the Islanders in July. League rules for the NHL bubble barred Sorokin from joining New York during its playoff run, leaving the 25-year-old netminder to wait until Saturday to get between the pipes for the Isles for the first time.
What a way to get in the game.