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Back back back back it up

Hockey

February 24, 2020
Back back back back it up

The GIST: Washington Capitals superstar Alexander Ovechkin scored his 700th career goal on Saturday, and he wasn’t even the top NHL performer of the weekend. That award goes to 42-year-old Zamboni driver turned Carolina Hurricanes goalie David Ayres, who became the first emergency backup goalie in NHL history to record a win.

I’m sorry, who?: Exactly. Ayres is a Zamboni driver for the Toronto Marlies (the Maple Leafs’ farm team), but with 29 minutes left in Saturday’s game against the Leafs, the visiting Hurricanes found themselves goalie-less after starter James Reimer and backup Petr Mrazek (pronounced M-RAZ-ihk) were both injured during the game. Desperate times call for desperate measures, so the Hurricanes quickly signed Ayers to a one-day contract (for a whopping $500) and stuck him in net. Yes, this actually happened.

  • Ayres, who was watching from the stands with his wife, has been the Leafs’ designated emergency backup goalie for three years, and while he’s previously filled in during some practices, he’d never played a game. Because designated emergency backup goalies aren’t signed to a team, Ayers was able to sub in for any team on the ice, not just the Leafs (even though his helmet suggested otherwise).

And how did he do?: Pretty well, actually! He saved eight of 10 shots over half a game and led the Hurricanes to a 6–3 win (which probably says more about how sh!t the Leafs played than anything else)! And while Leafs fans were pretty devastated, the rest of the sports world (including us!) is obsessed with this feel-good story that couldn’t have happened to a nicer or more lovable person.

  • As much as the Hurricanes aren’t looking to sign Ayres long-term, they will be selling “sherseys” (aka T-shirt jerseys) with Ayres’ name on the back, with the proceeds split between Ayres and a kidney foundation (Ayres received a kidney transplant in 2004 — incredible). Sports, you have to love ’em.

You really do. Now what’s this about Ovi?: Ovechkin became just the eighth player to score 700 career goals, during Washington’s loss (because not everything can be picture perfect) to the New Jersey Devils on Saturday. Not only that, at 34 years old he’s the second-youngest and second-fastest player to ever do so (behind the one and only Wayne Gretzky).

  • The wildest part is that he’s nowhere close to done. Ovi still has a few more good seasons in him, and if he keeps up the pace, he could (though half-glass empty-ers are skeptical) set his sights on the ultimate record: Gretzky’s “untouchable” 894 career goals.

Any other hockey news?: Connor McDavid is back! The Edmonton Oilers’ (and league’s) top player was supposed to be out seven to 10 games with a quad injury, but after missing only six games, he returned last night to play against the Los Angeles Kings.

  • And don’t forget: the NHL trade deadline is today at 3 p.m. ET. Teams won’t be able to trade until the season’s over after then, so follow the NHL’s Trade Tracker (and set your alarm to grab a “coffee”) for all the last-minute action.