A 42-year-old Zamboni driver filled in as emergency NHL goalie – Got the win!


On Saturday in Toronto, injuries to both James Reimer and Petr Mrazek forced the Carolina Hurricanes to call on in-house emergency goaltender David Ayres in the second period against the Toronto Maple leafs.

Reimer was forced out with an injury late in the first period, and Mrazek left after Kyle Clifford collided with him while going for a loose puck midway through the second period. Clifford was given a charging penalty on the play.

Here’s the moment Ayres was brought on for his unexpected duties.

Carolina held Toronto to 10 shots on goal in the 28-plus minutes Ayres was in net, and he stopped the final eight in helping the Canes to a 6-3 victory. He told Sportsnet in Canada after the game that the experience was awesome: “Obviously the time of my life out there … once in a lifetime, I’ll take it.”

According to the Hurricanes, Ayres last served as an emergency backup goalie Feb. 1 for the team’s AHL minor league affiliate, the Charlotte Checkers, against the Toronto Marlies — the team Ayres works for as a Zamboni driver and practice goalie, per NHL.com’s Mike Zeisberger. He dressed for the game but did not play.

Unfortunately for Carolina, Ayres’ NHL debut had a less-than-ideal start. Entering the game with a 4-1 lead, he allowed goals on the first two shots he faced. However, things got better for Ayres and the Hurricanes.

Ayres gathered himself and shut out the Maple Leafs the rest of the way. “I told the boys in the dressing room, once we come out for the third I’ll be settled down and ready to win this one,” he said.

In that dressing room after the game, Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour congratulated the team and Ayres, and put the special night in perspective: “It’s not often in a game you get tied to a great memory,” Brind’Amour said. “You’ll see when you’re done, all you’ll have is the memories you’ve got.”