Zamboni driver steps in as emergency goalie for NHL's Carolina Hurricanes
When both Carolina Hurricanes goaltenders left Saturday's game against the Toronto Maple Leafs with injuries, Dave Ayres came in as the emergency backup — and stopped eight of 10 shots he faced to seal a 6-3 win for Carolina.
Why it matters: Ayres, a 42-year-old Zamboni driver and practice goalie, had watched the first period from the stands with his wife. Minutes later, he was skating onto the ice in a real NHL game.
How it works: NHL teams dress two goaltenders and typically would call on a minor league goalie due to injury or other emergency.
- If logistics make that impossible, teams are allowed to dress and play any available goaltending option, which is why local goalies with ties to the team are often on call.
- Emergency goalies are available to either team, which explains why Ayres suited up for the Hurricanes despite being working for the Leafs. (Can you imagine if this was a super important game and he was facing his own team?)
What they're saying: Ayres, whose own hockey career was derailed by a kidney transplant 15 years ago, was asked what he'll remember most from the game.
"These guys. How great they were to me. The crowd in Toronto was unreal. Even though I was on the other team, they were so receptive. Every time I made a save I could hear them cheering for me."— Dave Ayres
The big picture: Ayres adds his name to a long and storied list of emergency NHL goalies — a list that includes an accountant, a police officer, a bank manager, a grad student, a statistician and a vending machine worker.
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