Rod Brind’Amour, coach for the Carolina Hurricanes hockey team, was in a panic, looking around at their options after both of his goalies were injured during the first period during their game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. They were scrambling, looking for anyone who could block a goal so they could continue playing, and they found their answer in an unlikely place — the stadium Zamboni driver.
David Ayres, 42, loves hockey, but he wasn’t ever skilled enough to play for a professional team, until hard work and opportunity collided on the ice.
As the Zamboni driver and emergency goaltender, David practiced with the Maple Leafs in the event that either team needed a backup goalie. It just hadn’t happened — until now.
The second period was rough. David let two goals go through. Then, just like it would happen in one of those heartwarming sports movies, David went into the locker room, talked to the team and told them he would get better.
“Obviously, that second period was a little shaky, but I told the boys in the dressing room, ‘Once we come out for the third, I’ll be settled down and ready to win this one,’ ” David said.
And, get this: He did win! He went on to block eight out of 10 shots to help the Carolina Hurricanes win the game, 6-3.
Still, the Carolina Hurricanes players understood how stressful this could be for David.
“One of the guys said to me, ‘Just have fun. We don’t care if you let 10 goals in,’ ” David said. “That’s what settled me down, and it was great.”
David got $500 for the game and got to keep his jersey. Even though he played for the other team, the Toronto crowd gave him a loud applause for his efforts on the ice.
“It was awesome,” David said. “I had the time of my life out there.”