Semborski was put on alert he might be pressed into action under the NHL's wonderfully quirky emergency backup goaltender rules. The Hawks needed one Saturday when Corey Crawford had an appendectomy at an area hospital after he felt ill Saturday morning.
Per NHL rules, teams are allowed to sign a backup goaltender, who can be almost anyone. The Hawks, though, couldn't sign goaltender coach Jimmy Waite because, as a former professional, Waite's salary would have counted against the cap and the Hawks had no room.
They needed an amateur who would cost nothing and with the Flyers' help they found Semborski, who was pressed into duty. When Semborski saw a Chicago area code pop up on his phone, he said, he knew this was for real. "Someone named Tony" had called him — Hawks' senior director of team services Tony Ommen.
"I seriously had to take my skates off from coaching and just come (Wells Fargo Center) as fast as I could," said Semborski, who said he got the call only two hours before the game. "I still couldn't believe it was happening as I was walking in."
Disbelief can't quite quantify what Semborski felt. The Bloomsburg, Pa., native who graduated from Temple last December barely had time to call his family to let them know what was happening. His parents couldn't make it from about 135 miles away in Bloomsburg in time.
"This was a dream come true," Semborski said. "It was so cool just hanging out with those guys. They made me feel welcome right away, started joking around.
"The Flyers asked around and people threw my name out I guess. I really don't know how it happened. I'll have to get to the bottom of that and thank some people."
The Hawks embraced the chance to razz their new teammate. They called him out for showing up late and for not wearing a suit to the game. They put his number on the board and told him he had to contribute $200 to the team's holiday party.
"I told them you better take credit, because that's all I have," Semborski said.
Soon after arriving, it was time for warmups. Semborski came out in a No. 50 jersey that had Crawford's name removed and his name on it. Semborski looked a little slow as pucks zoomed by him during his time in net as he was comprehending what was happening.
"That was the best 20 minutes of my life skating with them," Semborski said. "It was pretty cool. … I was a bit rusty. No matter how much I play I'm not going to be ready for them. It was fast. I couldn't even catch my breath because I was trying to take it all in."
Late in the game, the Hawks were trailing 3-1 and had pulled starter Scott Darling for an extra attacker. If the Flyers had scored an empty netter, Semborski said the Hawks were going to put him in the game. But it never came to be.
Semborski said he has been a lifelong Flyers fan and called their 2010 Stanley Cup Final loss to the Hawks "one of the hardest things I ever watched."
He added: "But today, that's all forgotten. I'm a Hawks fan."
Because he signed an amateur tryout agreement, Semborski did not make any money for his appearance, but he got pucks, hats and he will get a jersey from the Hawks.