David Ayres lives out a dream
At 8:41 of the second period between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Carolina Hurricanes, Ayres was given an opportunity of a lifetime. After goalies James Reimer and Petr Mrazek went down with injuries, Ayres was called upon by head coach Rod Brind’Amour to suit up as the emergency backup goaltender and take the net to defend the Hurricanes 3-1 lead.
A heavy task for any goalie, let alone a civilian whose most recent organized hockey experience was a beer league.
The Maple Leafs acted quickly, scoring a pair of goals on their first three shots against Ayres. All signs pointed to the Maple Leafs making quick work of the situation
However, the third period saw unlikeliest of scenarios unfold. The Hurricanes scored two goals to start the period and buckled down in their own end. However, Ayres stole the show as he recorded seven saves on seven shots in the final frame and kept the Maple Leafs at bay, including a big save on Auston Matthews. Ayres’ efforts earned the Hurricanes a crucial win in a tight Metropolitan Division playoff race, as well as a spot in hockey history.
At age 42, Ayres became the oldest goalie to record a win in NHL history, as well as the only EBUG to do so. Ayres also gained a brief moment of celebrity, doing the rounds on the big network morning shows and fielding interviews left and right. The triumphant hero also had February 25, 2020 named “David Ayres Day” by the city of Raleigh in his honor.
Though the NHL saw tax accountant Scott Foster make an appearance for the Winnipeg Jets vs the Chicago Blackhawks in 2018, the attention and fervor it created pales in comparison to the Ayres situation.
Thanks to one of hockey’s most bizarre rules and a 42-year-old Zamboni driver, fans were gifted with a reminder of just how wonderfully wacky hockey can be.