RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – One year ago today, just before the pandemic would change the way we live, the hockey world witnessed a feel-good story for the ages.
“It’s kind of crazy to think that that was a year ago,” said Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour. “Everything was good up until that day. We were normal and maybe we took it for granted that normal.”
There was nothing normal about that Feb. 22, 2020 night in Toronto.
David Ayres, a maintenance operations manager, was thrust onto the Scotiabank Arena ice when both Carolina Hurricanes goalies went down with injuries.
A 42-year-old practice goalie for the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League, Ayres was now tasked with trying to stop some of the worlds best hockey players.
“It was me and Brock (McGinn) and Roddy (Brind’Amour) and I think me and Brock looked over at Roddy and there’s video or Roddy’s face and that kind of tells the whole story,” laughed Hurricanes forward Jordan Martinook. “He’s like rolling his eyes.”
Not for long.
After a rough start, Ayres would go on to make eight saves in close to 30 minutes of action in the Hurricanes 6-3 win over the Maple Leafs.
“It just makes you happy,” Martinook admitted. “It’s just one of those feel-good moments that when you think of the game of hockey you think of those feel-good moments and that’s at the top for me.”
Because of COVID-19 protocols, Ayres can’t be in Raleigh on Monday to celebrate the one-year anniversary when the Canes host defending Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay.
“It’s something I’ll never forget,” said Hurricanes forward Brock McGinn. “Even when you see it on TV or the internet it’s always something you want to watch because it brings back great memories.”
And now, with so much hardship everywhere, hockey fans get the chance to look back at a moment in time that captivated the sport of hockey.
“It’s a memory I think we’ll all cherish, really,” said Brind’Amour