Something spectacular happened on Saturday night in Canada.
David Ayres, a 42-year-old Toronto Marlies Zamboni driver, suited up as an emergency backup goalie for the Carolina Hurricanes and helped them beat the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Ayres joined mid-game after both Hurricanes goalies were injured during the first and second periods.
It would be easy to make this a story about how the hapless Leafs got beaten by someone who they employ, but instead, let’s talk about how Ayres has inspired a nation.
Ayres has become the oldest goalie in NHL history to win his regular-season debut and the first emergency backup to ever record a victory. He let in two goals in the second period, before finding his bearings and blocking every shot he faced in the third period.
Ayres had a kidney transplant 15 years ago and wasn’t sure if he would ever play hockey again. Look at him now.
People were inspired by this Hollywood-worthy story of perseverance, beating the odds and following your dreams.
Many people’s inner hockey kids were jealous seeing Ayres play out many childhood dreams.
And even many Leafs fans showed their support for his spectacular feat.
Ayres’ new teammates welcomed him into the locker room after the game with a special shower.
The governor of North Carolina has even offered to make Ayres an honourary citizen.
Ayres’ wife Sarah is perhaps the person most excited about her husband’s incredible accomplishment.
The official Hurricanes Twitter account changed its description to read “DAVID AYRES THE GOAT.” The team is also selling Ayres merch, and has said that a portion of the proceeds will be going to a kidney foundation.
This is the second time this month Ayres has represented a team from North Carolina. He served as an AHL emergency backup for the Charlotte Checkers on Feb. 1 when they played against the Marlies.
Ayres joined the game after Hurricanes goalie James Reimer left the game in the first period with an upper-body injury and was replaced by Petr Mrazek. Mrazek later collided with Leafs forward Kyle Clifford. He was escorted off the ice, leading to Ayres’ moment of glory.
The Whitby, Ont., native had nothing but kind words for his teammates.
“These guys were awesome,″ he said. “They said to me, ‘Have fun with it, don’t worry about how many goals go in, this is your moment, have fun with it.’”
The Hurricanes ultimately won the game, in part thanks to Ayres’ efforts, 6-3.
With a file from the Canadian Press