It was a story straight out of a Hollywood script. David Ayres, a 42-year-old Zamboni driver and kidney transplant recipient, stepped in for the Carolina Hurricanes as an emergency goaltender Feb. 22 in Toronto. After letting the first two shots to get past him, Ayres, who had played minor league hockey, stopped the final eight shots sent his way and helped Carolina defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs, 6-3.
Ayres’ performance happened 40 years to the day after the U.S. Olympic hockey team’s “Miracle on Ice” at the Lake Placid Olympics. Ayres’ performance was certainly miraculous, and Upper Deck announced Friday it had secured a deal with a guy who could well be called “Rudy on Ice.”
It’s a warm, feel-good story, and hockey fans wondered if a trading card commemorating the event was possible.
Upper Deck cut a deal with Ayres, but it had to come up with an individual contract. That’s because Ayres is not a member of the NHL Players’ Association. Upper Deck holds the rights to NHL trading cards through the league and the NHLPA, but the company found a way to include Ayres in this year’s sets.
Upper Deck announce that an Ayres card will be released through the company’s Game Dated Moments on e-Pack. These will be tangible, physical cards that a collector can hold, and they can be mailed to collectors, Upper Deck said on its blog Friday.
Upper Deck also will honor Ayres with a Young Guns Update Rookie card, which will include UD exclusive parallels numbered to 100 and High Gloss parallels numbered to 10. These cards will be part of the 2019-2020 NHL SP Authentic set. A checklist is below.
Ayres’ story is amazing. He stepped between the pipes after both of the Hurricanes’ goalies went down with injuries. Ayres became only the third emergency goaltender in the modern era to play in the NHL, according to The Hockey News. He set several marks during the game, logging 28 minutes, 41 seconds in net. That is the most ice time by an emergency goalie in NHL history.
Ayres also became the oldest goaltender — emergency or otherwise — to win in his regular season debut, according to The Hockey News. It was a record that had stood since the 1926-1927 season, when Hugh Lehman, who won his debut at 41 years and 21 days with the Chicago Blackhawks.
What’s even more amazing is that Ayres, who received the kidney transplant in 2004—his mother was the donor—had last played competitive for the Norwood Vipers of the Allan Cup Hockey League. It was not a pleasant stint, as Ayres went 0-8 and allowed 58 goals with a .777 save percentage, ESPN reported.
“I’ve been on this ice many times without fans,” Ayres told reporters after the game. “Put fans in the mix and it’s a whole different game, obviously. But, hey, once in a lifetime. I’ll take it.”
It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and now Upper Deck has produced a once-in-a-lifetime card.
And there may be more.
“Upper Deck has a few more surprises in store for collectors with regard to future Ayres content,” Chris Carlin, Upper Deck’s head of customer experience, wrote in an email. “Stay tuned.”
A memory we'll all have forever pic.twitter.com/LUxqs8o3Wr
— Carolina Hurricanes 🏳️🌈 (@Canes) February 23, 2020