The Carolina Hurricanes held onto a win in Toronto thanks to an unlikely hero, an emergency goalie named David Ayers.
The Canes had no business winning against the Maple Leafs after both goalies exited the game with injuries. James Reimer left the game with a lower-body injury while Petr Mrazek left the game after a collision with Leafs left-wing Kyle Clifford. There was no way they could hold on to a three-goal lead, on the road, without a capable goalie, right?
Enter David Ayers, a 42-year-old emergency goalie/practice goalie, and current Zamboni driver for the Maple Leafs minor league affiliate, the Toronto Marlies. The last time he served as an emergency goalie was Feb. 1st for the Charlotte Checkers when the Marlies came to town.
Ayers gave up two goals on the first two shots he faced but with the Canes defense settling in, they held Toronto to just 10 shots on goal for the 28 minutes that Ayers was in net. It also helped that Carolina extended their lead and they ended up with a 6-3 victory.
It was a great moment on a night that also featured another NHL milestone, Alex Ovechkin’s 700th career goal. This story took over the spotlight, it’s the first time an emergency goalie has gotten the win in his NHL debut. Ayers is also the oldest netminder to win his NHL debut, at 42 years old.
After a kidney transplant 15 years ago, David Ayers wasn’t sure if he would play hockey again. I think its safe to say that his NHL debut couldn’t have gone any better. Ayers will serve as the honorary “Siren Sounder” at the Canes’ next home game on Tuesday.