A former Zamboni driver who helped take down the Toronto Maple Leafs while playing as an emergency backup goaltender for the Carolina Hurricanes is in Raleigh, N.C. for “David Ayres Day” on Tuesday.
Ayres, a 42-year-old Zamboni driver and facilities manager with the American Hockey League’s Toronto Marlies, was thrust into the spotlight on Saturday after Carolina’s starter and backup goalie were lost to injury.
Ayers, of Whitby, Ont., stopped eight of 10 shots he faced in his NHL debut, helping the Hurricanes capture a 6-3 victory.
Speaking to Global News on Tuesday, Ayres called the whole situation a “whirlwind.”
“A lot more than I ever expected to be honest,” he said.
“I thought in the game was going to be hard enough … and now I’m down here in Raleigh and they’re having a big day for me.”
Ayres will also act as the siren sounder for the Hurricanes when they take on the Dallas Stars Tuesday night.
“See you Tuesday, Davey!” the club said on its Twitter account. “Ayres will be in the building on Tuesday and will be our VectorSecurity Siren Sounder!”
Ayres called the whole situation a “pinch me moment.”
“There’s been so many really cool people that have text messaged me and reached out to say ‘congratulations’ or ‘I’m proud of you or you did a great job,” he said.
“Even people that I don’t know that have reached out to me to say they were proud of me. That’s the best.”
While he said he’s more “tired than sore,” Ayres is pumped for the great night ahead.
As for the Leafs, whom Ayres has acted as a practice goalie for, he said he’s still in their good books.
I skated with a couple of them the next day and said they were proud of me and I did great.”
Shirts with Ayres’ name and No. 90 were being sold after the game. The Hurricanes said Ayres would get royalties and a portion of the proceeds will also go to a kidney foundation in honour of the goaltender, who underwent a kidney transplant in 2004 from his mom.
—With files from The Canadian Press
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