David Ayres is a Canadian professional ice hockey goaltender and the operations manager at the Mattamy Athletic Centre in Toronto, Ontario.
Ayres is best known for playing in a NHL game on February 22, 2020, for the Carolina Hurricanes as an emergency backup goaltender, beating the Toronto Maple Leafs, 6–3, and becoming the first emergency goaltender to record a win in NHL history.
On February 22, both of the Carolina Hurricanes' goaltenders, James Reimer and Petr Mrázek, were injured during a game against the Maple Leafs. Ayres entered the game during the second period as the emergency backup goaltender, after signing a one-game contract with the NHL. Donning Kasimir Kaskisuo's old Toronto Marlies helmet and pads, and wearing a Maple Leafs t-shirt under his equipment, he entered the game at 8:41 left in the 2nd period with a 3–1 lead. He allowed goals on the first two shots that he faced before stopping the next eight shots on goal, along with recording one shot on goal, to help seal a 6–3 win for Carolina. He became the first emergency backup to enter a game in the NHL since Scott Foster in 2018. The Carolina Hurricanes sprayed water after the game on Ayres with the water bottles in the locker room. Ayres also became the oldest goaltender (at 42 years, 194 days) to win his NHL regular-season debut, and for this, the Hockey Hall of Fame has given his game-used goalie stick.
Ayres was named first star of the game and kept his game-worn jersey and game puck. Had he signed a Professional Try-Out Agreement he would have been paid $500 for the game, but Ayres said after the game that under the terms of his contract he was not paid. Reimer also gave him an autographed goalie stick, and Rod Brind'Amour, Carolina's coach, gave Ayres an autographed bottle of wine. His debut occurred on the 40th anniversary of the Miracle on Ice. Carolina Hurricanes' forward Sebastian Aho stated teammates pooled together and gave Ayres a little bit of money.
Following the game, the Carolina Hurricanes announced that they would be selling t-shirts with Ayres' name and jersey number 90, with royalties going to Ayres and a portion of the proceeds being donated to a kidney foundation of Ayres' choice. Ayres survived a kidney transplant - which originally ended his dream of being a professional player - and also had a struggle with cancer.
Ayres was invited to sound the siren at the start of the Carolina Hurricanes home game, on February 25. While in North Carolina, Governor Roy Cooper declared Ayres, a Canadian citizen, an honorary citizen of the state of North Carolina, and Raleigh honored him by naming February 25, 2020 "David Ayres Day" in the City of Raleigh. His miraculous victory is being made into a movie with the help of Disney.
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