By writer to www.canescountry.com
I’ve spent a variety of time in my life in ice rinks. Once I was youthful it was watching my brother’s practices and video games as he went by way of the ranks taking part in goalie in North Carolina and Virginia. Even now he works and performs at a rink lower than a mile from my home the place I’ve watched him play beer league. Due to this I’ve at all times had a gentle spot for goalies and infrequently defend them when many wouldn’t (see most Cam Ward content material I’ve produced).
Throughout the latest lockout, he obtained to apply with a few gamers of varied ranges of professional hockey as they had been conditioning to prepare for the season. He stated it was a few of the most enjoyable that he has ever had and an absolute thrill to share the ice with gamers of that degree.
The NHL has essentially the most distinctive chance in all skilled sports activities, a person off the road suiting up for knowledgeable group. The even crazier half is that this solely occurs for goaltenders which is essentially the most specialised place in any sport. These gamers are known as emergency backup goaltenders (EBUGs), with essentially the most outstanding being accountant Scott Foster earlier than this season. He performed a interval for the Blackhawks in 2018.
As Alec wrote yesterday, the Canes are aware of an EBUG state of affairs when tools supervisor Jorge Alves served because the EBUG in 2016. Nevertheless, the method has modified for EBUGs, with the league now not letting an individual underneath contract for a group function an EBUG. Now every location should provide an EBUG that can be utilized by both group.
Just one goalie (Scott Foster, Chicago Blackhawks) had been known as into motion since this rule was put in place, however it occurred once more on Feb. 22nd. With each Petr Mrazek and James Reimer getting injured earlier than the tip of the second interval in opposition to the Toronto Maple Leafs, the world would meet David Ayres.
Ayres has some of the distinctive tales ever in sports activities, however each step it appeared to get much more unusual and thrilling. He beforehand acquired a kidney transplant. Because of the placement of the transplanted kidney, it’s positioned larger and extra uncovered. He initially thought he would by no means play hockey once more.
He’s a 42-year-old Zamboni driver on the Leafs’ AHL affiliate, Toronto Marlies’, dwelling enviornment. When the Marlies came upon that he performed goalie, he would fill in as a goalie every so often in apply for the Marlies and Maple Leafs.
Due to this expertise he additionally serves as each arenas’ EBUG. Ayres truly served as an EBUG for the Charlotte Checkers earlier this season earlier than being known as into motion for the Canes. You simply can’t make this up in case you tried.
Ayres got here out onto the ice carrying Marlies blue tools, and a Hurricanes jersey. He took some warmup photographs earlier than the sport resumed with 8:41 left within the second interval with a 3-1 lead. When he let in objectives on his first two photographs it didn’t look good. You can see it on the face of Rod Brind’Amour, however the gamers rallied round him and informed him to simply settle in.
From the third interval on, every thing was good, and at each level you couldn’t assist however really feel joyous for a person dwelling out his lifelong dream of taking part in within the NHL. The group rallied on each ends of the ice, solely permitting eight photographs and scoring three extra objectives to help the fill-in goalie. Ayres stopped all eight of the photographs, every one eliciting chills when watching dwell and when performed again. He was stopping NHL gamers that he sees often in apply to win a sport, and at each stoppage of play, gamers on either side gave him stick faucets and talked to him.
On the finish of the sport, he received first star of the sport and skated out onto the ice as an away participant, to a full standing ovation. Upon ending his interviews, he walked into the locker room to showers from the gamers and the entire group embracing him. Rod Brind’Amour did what he does greatest and encapsulated the second in solely the way in which that he can in his postgame speech.
It was only a picture-perfect second of an abnormal man attending to play within the NHL and beat the group that he practices in opposition to. For his troubles he acquired an autographed stick from Reimer, his sport jersey, and presents from Brind’Amour and gamers. He was payed $500 for his professional tryout contract.
The love for Ayres didn’t finish there. The Canes made participant t-shirts with Ayres’ title on the again. These shirts raised cash for the kidney basis of his selection, and himself. Additionally they flew Ayres to Raleigh after an in depth media tour. In Raleigh he was made an honorary North Carolina resident and sounded the storm siren earlier than the Canes’ subsequent dwelling sport. Even now he’s nonetheless within the working for the perfect second of the season by the NHL.
We’re almost by way of The Best Moments of the Season… So Far bracket!
Right here’s the place issues stand heading into the ultimate 8 ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/furBDsmmZi
— NHL (@NHL) May 26, 2020
The Ayres sport simply brings everybody again to their childhood reminiscences and goals simply excited about what they’d do in that type of second. For me it introduced again reminiscences of late nights on the rink and making an attempt to go to sleep in a automotive smelling of goalie gear coming dwelling from practices.
— to www.canescountry.com