Emergency goalie given hero's welcome at 'David Ayres Day' in North Carolina
TORONTO -- Emergency backup goalie and hockey sensation David Ayres visited North Carolina on Tuesday to celebrate “David Ayres Day” in Raleigh and receive an honorary residency from the state for his show-stopping performance on the ice.
Ayres, a 42-year-old Zamboni driver from Whitby, Ont., joined the Carolina Hurricanes as an emergency goalie on Saturday night when both the team’s regular goalies left due to injury. Ayres made eight stops on 10 shots and helped the Hurricanes secure a 6-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs.
With the win, Ayres became the only emergency goalie to register an official win in the National Hockey League and became the oldest goalie to win in their NHL debut.
“They took my stick yesterday after the game and put it in the Hall of Fame because I broke a record there, which was cool," Ayres told reporters on Tuesday. “I wasn’t expecting that.”
Since the win, Ayres has become an internet sensation and appeared on several national morning and late shows in the U.S. On Tuesday, Ayres recounted how he was walking onto the set of “Fox & Friends” while finishing up a telephone interview with another outlet.
“I had to ask a couple times: ‘Who am I talking to now?’ before I even went on because I didn’t have the itinerary in front of me,” he said.
Ayres arrived in Raleigh, where the city has declared Tuesday “David Ayres Day.” He’s scheduled to attend the Hurricanes home game Tuesday evening.
Ayres will be available for autographs before the game and will serve as the game’s “siren sounder,” a tradition at Hurricanes games where local celebrities turn a crank to set off a siren and pump up the fans in attendance.
“I can’t wait, this is going to be so much fun,” he said. “I just hope that I’m doing it right.”
The Hurricanes will be selling David Ayres shirts, with proceeds going to the Carolinas division of the National Kidney Foundation. Ayres received a kidney transplant in 2004.
“I want to make sure that everyone else knows that just because you have a kidney transplant or something like that, it’s not the end of the world,” Ayres said.
Ayres also hinted that he might be involved in the “storm surge,” a unique tradition where Hurricanes players celebrate home wins with funny and clever celebrations at centre ice.
In the past, the players have played basketball, tossed Halloween candy into the stands and brought famous boxer Evander Holyfield on to the ice for a pretend boxing match.
“I would be all over that, even if I had to slide like a penguin on the ice,” Ayres said.
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper has also named Ayres an “honorary North Carolinian” on Tuesday. According to the official declaration, Ayres and the Hurricanes embodied the state’s motto of “to be rather than to seem” with “their resiliency on the way to a critical win in the playoff hunt.”