David Ayres’s Amazing Story
I could quite happily write about this day all off-season. It was just amazing to watch unless you were a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs. For the first time in NHL history, an emergency back-up goaltender (or EBUG) got a result in the NHL.
David Ayres was forced into the Canes crease when the Canes were 3-1 up in Toronto. Both of the goaltenders Carolina had entered the game with had gone down with injuries. Petr Mrazek got violently hit in the 2nd period after a Zach Hyman had thrown Jaccob Slavin into James Reimer in the 1st period. Ayres was in and it was going to be nerve-wracking at the very least.
I will be honest, I had very little faith when the EBUG was forced in. It wasn’t helped that Ayres was the Toronto Marlies Zamboni driver. He was employed by Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment (MLSE). Toronto was shooting at their employee at home in Toronto on major Canadian television. It just seemed like something was gonna go wrong.
But this was David Ayres, and after playing a beautiful pass which lead to a goal to make it 4-1, he let in 2 goals from the leaves. While others got nervous, it meant that the result of the game would now go to the EBUG. It was gonna be Ayres game to win.
And win it he did. A 6-3 win that was huge for the Canes after beating not only a playoff competitor but beating them with one of the best period long defensive performances I’ve ever seen in the hockey world.
An incredible story, only to be made better when learning that he is only here because of his mother. Not because she gave up all the time and money she had to buy David equipment growing up (although that too) but she gave David a kidney. She saved his life, and he was now taking the hockey world by storm.
It was an incredible highlight, on both a personal and professional level. An emergency backup goalie had won an NHL game, and it had been in his home town, against the team that employed him, after being given a kidney to save his life. It was just all-around incredible.