Saturday, December 5, 2015

Maple Leafs' AHL team signs Zamboni driver as backup goalie for one game

The Toronto Marlies, the American Hockey League affiliate of the NHL's Toronto Maple Leafs, came up with a unique solution to a goalie shortage for their game in Rochester on Friday night.

Getting the start was Jonathan Bernier, an NHL regular for the past five years recently sent to the AHL on a conditioning stint after a miserable start to the regular season for the Leafs.

And on the bench backing him up was Dave Ayres, a 38-year-old building operations manager who was yanked from his usual job on the ice crew and signed to a one-game tryout.

It was an exciting moment for Ayres whose notoriety on the ice was limited to occasionally being seen driving the Zamboni for Marlies home games as part of his job.
The Marlies were in need of another goalie because their two regular goalies, Garrett Sparks and Antoine Bibeau, had been recently recalled to the NHL, while their ECHL goalie, Rob Madore, could not make it to Rochester from Orlando in time for the game.

Ayres didn't get a chance to play for the Marlies on Friday night and could only watch as Bernier stopped all 22 shots he faced in a 4-0 win.

And just as unceremoniously as his signing before the game, the Marlies announced that Ayres was released from his tryout right after it.

That's Canada. Throw a hat into the stands, and you got a hockey player.

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