Michael Nishi, seen here playing for the Ontario Hockey League's Windsor Spitfires in 2009, was the first goalie on the ice at Maple Leafs practice Friday. Nishi, who now plays for the University of Toronto, joined the NHL team's workout in case netminder James Reimer was forced to leave early after injuring himself in Thursday's loss to Carolina. Greg Plante/Canadian Press/File
The first goaltender out on Toronto's practice rink Friday morning was the University of Toronto's Michael Nishi.
His Varsity Blues teammate Brett Willows was summoned as an emergency backup Thursday night for the game against Carolina after Leafs starter James Reimer was forced to leave just 32 seconds in when teammate Josh Leivo accidentally clipped him in the head with his knee.
Jonathan Bernier took over and finished the game, yielding a freak final goal in a 3-2 loss.
Reimer was back on the ice at Friday’s practice at the MasterCard Centre in Etobicoke, Ont., along with winger James van Riemsdyk, who missed a second consecutive game Thursday because of back spasms.
Nishi was first on the ice Friday, skating and sitting by himself for more than 10 minutes before the rest of the team, including Reimer, emerged from the dressing room.
"I'm feeling good," Reimer said later. "Obviously everyone saw what happened. I kind of got my head run over there. The new protocol is you have to come out of the game and so I did. And had a bit of a headache, so the doctors felt it was in my best interest and safety that I stay out for the rest of the game."
He said he came to practice in the morning and worked out to get his heart rate up, to see how he felt.
"I hit the ice and felt good," Reimer added.
Head coach Randy Carlyle said he expected Reimer to be available for Saturday's game in Chicago (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 7 p.m. ET)
Reimer and Bernier started in goal for the morning drills, proving Toronto coach Randy Caryle correct. He had said the previous night that Reimer had a headache and was expected to practise.
Thursday’s incident isn’t the first time Reimer has suffered a blow to the head.
Two seasons ago, he missed time due to concussion-like symptoms that were later linked to a neck problem, when he was hit by Montreal's Brian Gionta in October 2011.
He was sidelined for more than a month and finished the season on the sidelines after taking a shot in practice in late March 2012 and experiencing a return of the concussion-like symptoms.
Nishi, 19, has spent time with the Windsor Spitfires, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, Ottawa 67s and Guelph Storm in the Ontario Hockey League and Gatineau Olympiques in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
The Toronto native has yet to play for the 2-1-0 Varsity Blues this season.
Meanwhile, Leafs forward Troy Bodie, a healthy scratch the past four games, skated on a line with Nazem Kadri and Jay McClement at Friday’s workout, tweeted CBCSports.ca hockey writer Mike Brophy, and will probably play in Chicago.With files from CBCSports.ca