One of the weirdest things in sports is when two goaltenders get hurt in the NHL and an emergency goaltender comes onto the ice. It’s especially weird when you’re playing in a foreign country and have a former junior hockey goalie who’s probably a fan of your opponent between the pipes for nearly 30 minutes.
That was the case for the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night, as they lost both goaltenders and were forced to put an unknown emergency goaltender in net against a professional hockey team. With 8:41 left in the second period and the Hurricanes leading 3-1, Petr Mrazek was run over by a Toronto Maple Leafs player and left the game injured. This caused a lengthy delay, as James Reimer was already unavailable, which meant the Hurricanes were down to an emergency goaltender. And since they are from Carolina and the game was being played in another country, they didn’t really have a choice as to who goes in.
Enter 42-year-old David Ayers, wearing No. 90 and a Toronto Marlies mask, going into the net for an NHL team. The SportsNet broadcast quickly noted that Ayers is from Whitby, Ontario, and played some Junior B hockey. He is currently a zamboni driver. You know, the guy who runs the vehicle over the ice to make it shiny again.
It wasn’t looking great for the Hurricanes, especially with so much time left in the game. And it didn’t get off to a great start.
That’s right, the Leafs scored two goals on two shots against a goaltender who was certainly not ready to play. It quickly looked like it was going to be a gigantic mess.
But the Hurricanes escaped into the second intermission with a 4-3 lead.
Surely, this entire 20 minutes of hockey would be bad news for a Hurricanes team that needs to survive with a Toronto rink resurfacer in net. But Carolina exploded for two quick goals to take a 6-3 lead.
Ayers even made some saves against the Leafs.
From there, the Leafs truly wilted. They struggled to get shots on net, registering only seven in the third period. They took bad penalties. At times they couldn’t stay on their skates and wasted power plays with no shots on net. The home Toronto crowd booed as they failed to get shots on a Junior B goaltender. And the Hurricanes won, improbably, 6-3, in a game that was fairly embarrassing for a very proud hockey franchise. Ayers actually got the win in the game, and became a social media darling in the process.
I have texted Dave Ayres to fill in as a men’s league goalie roughly 4,128 times over the last 15 years. This is bananas.
— Chris Black (@ByChrisBlack) February 23, 2020
This is an underrated joke.
So is this.
It’s a weird quirk of hockey and not something that can be easily replicated, but the Hurricanes did a spectacular job of shutting down a Leafs team that was trying to throw everything at a goaltender who was absolutely not ready for prime time. It did make for quite a show on Hockey Night In Canada, though.
Written by: Uproxx