Ayres, who works as a Zamboni driver for the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League, was forced into action midway through the second period after Carolina’s James Reimer and Petr Mrazek were injured. The Hurricanes were leading 3-1 when the 42-year-old Ayres took over. He stopped eight of 10 shots and received a rousing ovation from the Toronto fans after the game, even though he’d just helped defeat their team.
Ayres was mobbed by the Carolina players after the game in a raucous scene in the locker room.
Speaking to Brian Kilmeade on “Fox & Friends” Monday, Ayres said he serves as an NHL emergency goalie based in Toronto and sometimes practices with the Maple Leafs. He can be called upon to play for either the Maple Leafs or the visiting team if both of a team’s goalies get hurt during a game, which is an extremely rare occurrence.
When he was called on to enter the game, Ayres recalled that he was thinking “don’t embarrass yourself” and was “nervous” about how it would go, especially after two goals were quickly scored. He said he reassured the Hurricanes players that he’d play better before the third period began.
“I just said let’s hold it down in the third, so if you guys get another goal here, I’ll be ready to go, I’ll hold it down in the third period. They came out and they played unreal in front of me and we ended up getting the win,” he said.
The team scored twice more as Ayres kept the Maple Leafs off the scoreboard in the third period.
“Everything came together,” he said.
Ayres said he’ll be the emergency third-string goalie again Saturday night in Toronto for the Maple Leafs’ next home game.
Associated Press contributed to this report.