His efforts won him the title of first star of the game, and he is now the oldest goaltender in NHL history to win his regular-season debut.
Attention, Hollywood: think Rudy on skates, Rocky on ice.
A 42-year-old Zamboni driver who served as a practice goalie was unexpectedly called into action Saturday night when his team’s starter and back-up goalie were injured during game play. David Ayres had given up his NHL dream when he had a kidney transplant 15 years ago, but now, he was getting his shot.
He was more than up to the task, stopping eight of 10 shots and helping the Hurricanes to a 6-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Ironically, Ayres had spent eight years for that team’s minor league affiliate in the AHL and been a practice goalie for them as well.
Ayres was watching the game with his wife when the starting Hurricanes goalies, James Reimer, was injured. Then backup Petr Mrazek was hurt. That sent Ayres into the game as the emergency backup goalie.