Antti Raanta

Santino Vasquez had long given up his professional hockey dream. The former goaltender played two games in two seasons at Division III Hamline University with an 8.94 goals-against average. The 26-year-old dabbled with semipro hockey in the Czech Republic but has since returned to Saint Paul, where he hosts a goaltending clinic in nearby Hopkins.

On Thursday, Vasquez's NHL debut almost fell into his lap.

Santino Vasquez

During the Rangers-Wild game, New York starter Antti Raanta left with 6:11 remaining in the first period after taking a slap shot to the forehead. Usual starter Henrik Lundqvist took over, but the Rangers were left without a backup.

Enter Vasquez, who got a call from Kirk Olson, Wild strength and conditioning coach and house goalie manager.

"I was literally at home watching the game and just got home from coaching and Kirk called and said, 'Can you get down here as fast as you can?' Vasquez says.

"I live like two minutes away over the bridge. I just grabbed all my (stuff) and got down here."

The NHL collective bargaining agreement's Article 16.13, the "Goaltender Exception," allows teams to sign replacements to an amateur or professional tryout contract two times per season. Home teams are required to have emergency goaltenders on-call if a visiting team cannot find its own replacement from the minor leagues.

Since this situation occurred in-game, the Rangers exercised the clause.

Vasquez showed up at the Xcel Energy Center, put on his gear and prepared in an auxiliary locker room. Mentally, he was ready to go.

"I was just in here stretching, just hanging out, staying relaxed," he says. "I don't really get too nervous. I've been down here a lot. I would have been ready to play, that's for sure. I know they wouldn't have scored on me every shot."

Considering the Rangers had former Vezina Trophy winner and potential Hall of Famer Lundqvist between the pipes, Vasquez was a mega-last resort. However, Lundqvist did allow three third-period goals and the Rangers could have given Vasquez a few minutes of glory.

According to The Hockey News, an emergency goalie has not entered a game since November 1963, when an injury to Red Wings Hall of Famer Terry Sawchuk gave a player named Harrison Gray a chance.

Last season, the Panthers then-41-year-old goalie coach Rob Tallas, who played 99 NHL games in his career and none since 2001, nearly entered a game when both Roberto Luongo and Al Montoya suffered injuries. Luongo, who started the game and left with a minor injury, had actually left the arena, but he quickly rushed back and re-suited up. Tallas was never needed.

Vasquez will say this has shut the door on his NHL career.

"I kind of had a feeling once I saw Raanta leave because my dad always said you never know when they're going to call you," he says. "A bunch of people were sending me text messages and Snapchats. It was pretty fun. Hopefully, I get to do it again."

Vasquez also gets a nice parting gift for his readiness. Emergency goalies receive $500 and the option to keep their game-worn jerseys. Although Vasquez's sweater is not exactly game-worn, it will make for good conversation framed in his living room.

The Wild won the game, 5-2. On Friday morning, the Rangers recalled goaltender Magnus Hellberg from AHL Hartford.

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-- Follow Jeffrey Eisenband on Twitter @JeffEisenband.