Now in goal for the Carolina Hurricanes: Emergency back-up David Ayres.
The 42-year-old Ayres was called into service by the Hurricanes in the second period of Saturday's tilt against the Maple Leafs, when both Petr Mrazek and James Reimer were lost to injury.
Ayres is the designated emergency back-up at Scotiabank Arena, prepared to step in for either club if both of their goaltenders are unable to play. It’s a rare circumstance that calls someone in Ayres’ position to action, but that’s what happened when, midway through the middle frame Mrazek went chasing after a loose puck above the left circle and was leveled by Kyle Clifford’s punishing hit.
Mrazek was eventually able to skate off under his own power, but the situation left Carolina reeling. The Hurricanes had already lost one goaltender earlier in the game, when James Reimer was shaken up following a collision with Jaccob Slavin. Once it was clear Mrazek was also out for the duration, Ayres answered the call.
Ayres is a regular practice goalie for the Leafs, that is, when he's not at his day job as a Coca-Cola Coliseum employee. Ayres has been tending net whenever the Leafs or Toronto Marlies need a practice goaltender for years, and once even backed up for Jonathan Bernier during a Marlies’ game against Rochester in 2015. Ayres also suited up for Toronto in their outdoor practice last month, but had otherwise just been a rarely-seen presence in the background.
A former Junior B goalie, Ayres’ own career was sidelined by a kidney issue that forced him to undergo a transplant in 2004. He had planned on playing in Texas’ Central League before becoming ill, and had once attended the San Jose Sharks Pro-Am camp.
After allowing two goals on the first two shots he faced, Ayres settled in and made a pair of saves early in the third period.