One of the most fun and ridiculous things in American sports is the occasional use of the emergency goalie in the NHL. When a team runs out of active goalies, it will pluck a non-player somewhere from the arena and stick him at one of the most important positions on the ice. Today, that was the case with the Carolina Hurricanes, and Toronto zamboni driver David Ayres made history.
If you're betting on a new sports movie being produced in the next few years, this one may be it. The 42-year old Ayres, who practices with the AHL's Toronto Marlies, entered today's game after a brutal start for Carolina against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Starter James Reimer left the game in the first period, after a nasty collision. Backup Petr Mrazek was injured shortly thereafter. Enter: David Ayres.
Things didn't start out well. Ayres allowed two goals on the first two shots he faced from the Maple Leafs. He settled in from there, and shut out his own team in the third period. The Hurricanes, meanwhile, got hot on offense, scoring six goals in the final two periods to win the game 6-3.
With the 'W,' Ayres makes some incredible NHL history. He wound up with eight saves on 10 shots faced in the game. With the victory, he is now the first emergency backup goalie to record a win as an emergency goalie in league history.
Chicago Blackhawks emergency backup goalie Scott Foster took the sport by storm with his performance in the team's 2018 win. Starter Collin Delia was credited with the win in that game, so Ayres does go down in the history books.
David Ayres' story is pretty incredible. In 2004, he underwent a kidney transplant. This was obviously his first NHL appearance. He played briefly for the Toronto Marlies earlier in the year, in a similar emergency situation.
For his efforts tonight, he'll make $500 and get to keep his Canes jersey. And go down in the history books, of course.\
Update: Apparently Ayres won't actually be paid for the appearance.
Hopefully Carolina and/or the NHL makes the right and gets him something for his effort, though I'm sure the thrill of playing in the game was a huge perk on its own.