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Home / Toronto / News / Toronto Zamboni driver, Ryerson athletic centre ops manager backstops Canes to defeat Leafs

Toronto Zamboni driver, Ryerson athletic centre ops manager backstops Canes to defeat Leafs


Although he let in the first two shots, David Ayres, 42, who works as a Zamboni driver for the Toronto Marlies, was the designated emergency goalie who backstopped the Carolina Hurricanes to help defeat the Leafs Saturday night.

Toronto’s David Ayres becomes the oldest goalie to play in an NHL game, Ayres was called in as an emergency substitute goalie for the Carolina Hurricanes against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena Saturday February 23, 2020. Lead photo by https://twitter.com/PaceSagester/

Ayres soon settled down saving 8 of 10 shots from the hometown Leafs and the Hurricanes won the game 6-3, making the Ryerson University Mattamy athletic centre operations manager not only the talk of the town but famous worldwide on Saturday night.

Even the British newspapers were recording the feelgood story. The Guardian reported the headline “42-year-old pulled out of crowd to make NHL debut…and wins game.”

Ayres was the on-call emergency goaltender in Toronto, meaning if either team loses both goaltenders to unforeseen circumstances, Ayres gets the nod and receives $500 to go along with the dream gig of playing in the NHL.

When former Leafs and current Hurricanes goaltender James Reimer went down with an imjury, Ayres who had been sitting in the stands with his wife left the confines of Scotiabank Arena to get dressed at the team’s backup. Then midway into the second period his smartphone lit up as he was nitified that the Canes backup goalie Petr Mrazek had also become injured due to a collision with Leafs forward Kyle Clifford.

The AHL affiliate Marlies Zamboni driver got the nod to walk down the Scotiabank tunnel and take his place both between the pipes and into the NHL’s history books as the oldest goaltender in NHL history picking up the win as well.


Ayres in addition to being the Zamboni driver and operations manager at Ryerson University’s Mattamy atheletic centre is also a practice goalie with the Toronto Marlies.

Being the emergency goalie for half of the games at Scotiabank Arena this season, Ayres never really expected to get the call.

Ayres, who was actually a Boston Bruins fan growing up, said “the crowd was unreal. they were great to me. Even though I was on the other team they were s0o receptive. Every time I made a save I could hear them cheering for me.”


Toronto’s newest celebrity is now flying to the States to do a number of talk show interviews as well as to attend the Hurricanes game in Raleigh, NC Tuesday night.

And in case you are wondering David Ayres gets to keep his new Hurricanes jersey.

story by Terry Lankstead

Other articles from totimes.ca – otttimes.ca – mtltimes.ca

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