ANNAPOLIS - When Vladimir Tarasenko asked if there was an extra goaltender available to join the Blues for practice on Sunday morning, Navy goalie Luke Markus put on his pads faster than he ever had before.
And by fast, we're talking seconds. Not minutes.
"He ran in there and we helped him get dressed as quick as possible," said Kevin Rooney, the head coach of the Navy men's ice hockey team.
The Blues were holding a team practice at McMullen Arena - home of the Navy men's and women's hockey team - for the players who wouldn't be in the lineup for Sunday's preseason finale against the Washington Capitals. With Jake Allen and Chad Johnson scheduled to play in Sunday's game, only Ville Husso was available for practice, which included such names as Tarasenko, Jaden Schwartz, Brayden Schenn, Alex Pietrangelo and Colton Parayko.
"A bunch of us came over, got some breakfast and walked over here (to watch the Blues practice)," said Markus, who is playing in his senior season with the Navy hockey team. "They said 'you gotta come put your stuff on, they need another goalie.' I thought they were all messing with me. I didn't stretch or anything, and I'm pretty sure I pulled every (muscle). But that's alright. I had so much fun out there, it was just an incredible experience. Definitely one I'll never forget."
"We were missing a goalie, so it was really fun to shoot on him today," said Tarasenko. "Thanks to him, it made our practice more interesting. It was a really good time for him, he'll remember it forever."
"This is his dream doing something like this," added Rooney. "You couldn't find a better goaltender out there to do this. He'll remember this for the rest of his life, and I took a bunch of videos so he could."
The Blues are spending four days near the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis for a team-bonding trip, which will conclude Tuesday afternoon. The team will have lunch with US Navy midshipmen and will take a tour of the academy before practicing at McMullen Arena again on Tuesday morning.