By now everyone has seen it. A Zamboni driver named David Ayres made his NHL debut Saturday night on Hockey Night in Canada and helped backstop the Carolina Hurricanes to a win over the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The story obviously was wild for a number of reasons, but when you look deeper at the numbers, it becomes even more spectacular.
While this was likely Ayres’ only chance at NHL glory, it will surely be a night he and hockey fans everywhere won’t forget anytime soon.
42 years, 194 days
Ayres made history by becoming the oldest goalie to make his NHL debut at 42 days and 194 days. The previous record was held by Hugh Lehman of the Chicago Blackhawks for over 85 years after he made his debut against the Toronto St. Pats at 41 years, 21 days in November of 1926.
In fact, the third oldest debut also came against a Toronto team, the Arenas, in 1917 when Bert Lindsay of the Montreal Wanderers made his debut at 36 years, 299 days.
Overall, Ayres is the second oldest player to ever make his debut. In 1927, hockey innovator Lester Patrick made his NHL debut for the New York Rangers at age 43 years and 80 days. Patrick was coach and GM of the Rangers at the time.
Ayres is also the oldest visiting goalie to win a game against the Maple Leafs in Toronto.
The Maple Leafs only mustered 10 shots on Ayres in 28:41 of action. By making eight saves, Ayres now holds a .800 save percentage, 4.18 goals-against average and one win. Among the 84 goalies who have appeared in at least one NHL game this season, Ayres ranks 83rd in save percentage, 76th in goals-against average and is tied for 67th in wins.
Ayres was also credited with one shot on goal in the game, which gave him more than five Maple Leafs players including William Nylander and Rasmus Sandin.
Amazingly, 18 fans have added Ayres in Yahoo! fantasy hockey. Sometimes, you have to take big swings.
The number Ayres wore for the Hurricanes Saturday. In his post-game interview, Ayres told Sportsnet’s Kyle Bukauskas that he didn’t have time to choose it.
However, if any fans want to own a piece of history, they can buy a Hurricanes t-shirt jersey with Ayres’ number on it. The team says the veteran goalie will get commission on every sale and other proceeds will go to a kidney foundation in honour of Ayres, who had a kidney transplant in 2004.