An Old Zamboni Driver Won His Pro Hockey Debut
Entrenched in American culture as the "fourth sport," hockey doesn't always get a ton of media attention until something inspiring happens (see: "Miracle on Ice," "The Mighty Ducks," etc.), and the story of David Ayres is no exception. Nothing wrong with a little inspiration on your Monday though, so here we go!
David Ayres is a building operations manager and Zamboni driver, and what's known as an "EBUG" (emergency back-up goalie). Apparently hockey teams need extra goalies on hand because if you fire enough hard rubber projectiles at them, eventually they're gonna get hurt. It happens often enough that hockey teams throughout the NHL have local guys on call who play for club teams and can be ready at a moment's notice. Ayres was that for Carolina Saturday night.
Well, in the Canes' Saturday match in Canada against the Toronto Maple Leafs, there were enough goalie injuries that Ayres had to be drafted into duty. He was up in the stands watching the game when the first-teamer James Reimer went down, followed way-too-shortly after by the backup. Ayres was apparently getting a bunch of texts telling him to hurry up, they needed a guy in goal, so he laced up his skates and got out there.
He was understandably a little nervous as he let two goals get in, but assured his teammates heading into the third period that he was all settled down and ready to hold down the fort. Carolina actually won 6-3, and Ayres had 8 saves. If that number doesn't mean anything to you, just imagine any fist-sized projectile coming at you at 100 mph and then remember it was his job to stop it, eight times.
At 42 years old, this made Ayres the oldest goalie to win his NHL debut. Even the crowd in Toronto was cheering for him, like some kind of Rocky IV-lite type of situation. Wheel, snipe, celly boys!
Now here comes the real inspiring part. 15 years ago, Ayres actually became the beneficiary of a kidney transplant. Your mid-to-late 20s is supposed to be your athletic prime, but Ayres was spending it in recovery. He didn't know if he'd ever be able to play hockey again, but he's now got a legit NHL win on his record.
If you're interested, the Carolina Hurricanes are also now selling a David Ayres shirt, where he'll get royalties and then the additional proceeds will go towards a kidney foundation.