David Ayres is a Canadian Zamboni driver at Coca-Cola Coliseum in Toronto, Ontario. He spent most of his career in the minor leagues before a serious health issue interrupted his playing career which required a kidney transplant 15 years ago. David Ayres thought he would never play hockey again. He underwent a kidney transplant in 2004. David Ayres’s Mother, Mary, donated her kidney. The transplant was successful and he made a full recovery.
Serving as the Emergency Backup Goaltender in Saturday night’s game between the Carolina Hurricanes and the Toronto Maple Leafs, Ayres was called upon by the Hurricanes after both of their main goaltenders, James Reimer and Petr Mrazek left with injuries. James Reimer started the game in net but left early in the first period after a collision with teammate Jaccob Slavin. His replacement, Petr Mrazek, was injured after getting charged out of his net in hopes of clearing the puck from his zone against the Toronto Maple Leafs but Kyle Clifford ran him over.
Before stepping onto the ice, David Ayres signed one-game contract with NHL. He emerged from the tunnel wearing a Toronto Marlie-themed goalie mask, blue pants and jersey no. 90. Carolina Hurricanes changed his Leaf blue shell pants replaced for the third period. He had some knowledge of Leaf shooters from practice which might have eased his nerves.
David Ayres earned his first career NHL and was named first star of the game. He was paid $500 for the game, received his game-worn jersey and the game puck. Parting gifts including a bottle of wine from Coach Brind’Amour, a signed goalie stick from Reimer and a case of Molson.
Carolina Hurricanes to sell shirts honouring their emergency hero David Ayres.
It was an incredible moment in National Hockey League history that will not be soon forgotten.