The emergency backup goalie rule is one of the quirkiest in sports. The specialized nature of the position means that, essentially, if two goalies go down in the same game, a designated emergency backup on hand at the stadium will be called into action.

It almost never happens, with the last memorable instance in 2018. It’s normally a local amateur goalie of some kind, not someone you’d typically expect to walk into a top-level professional contest. It happened tonight in Toronto, when the Hurricanes lost both goalies due to injury. The designated backup: 42-year-old David Ayres, zamboni driver for the AHL’s Toronto Marlies.

Via Steven Ellis at The Hockey News:

Enter Ayres, a 42-year-old from Whitby, Ont. His last competitive action was an eight-game stint with Norwood Vipers of the Allan Cup Hockey League where he allowed 58 goals with a .777 save percentage and a 0-8 record. Wearing equipment representing Toronto’s AHL team, the Marlies, Ayres became just the third emergency goaltender in the modern era to play in the NHL. And at 28:41, it was the longest appearance by an emergency backup in league history, culminating in an NHL win.

The Hurricanes Twitter account was all over it, of course:

Ayres allowed two goals on the first three shots he saw, which isn’t a surprise. From then on, though, Ayres was nails, making shutting out the Leafs with 8 saves.

That’s incredible. Even though the home team lost, the home crowd clearly understood what was happening, as they gave Ayres an incredibly warm reception after the game.

And the locker room celebration was also very warm, although literally wet:

What an incredible night. What an awesome, ridiculous rule that let it happen, too.

[The Hockey News]

About Jay Rigdon

Jay is a writer and editor for The Comeback, and a contributor at Awful Announcing. He is not a strong swimmer.