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42-Year-Old Zamboni Driver Wins First NHL Game, Donates Jersey Proceeds

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Dave Aryes never expected to play in an NHL game, but when both of the goalies for the Carolina Hurricanes went down with injuries, he entered the game and ended up winning it.

In the NHL, each arena (not team) is required to have an emergency backup goalie. The emergency goalie will go in for either the home or the away team, whichever needs them. So, Aryes works for the home team Toronto Maple Leafs but secured the win for the Carolina Hurricanes.

Ayres played about half of the game for the Hurricanes. He gave up two goals on the first three shots but then stopped seven shots. The Hurricanes won 6-3.

He became the oldest player (42) to ever win their NHL debut.

“It was awesome,” Aryes said after the game. “Obviously time of my life out there. I’ve been on this ice many times without fans, put fans in the mix it’s a whole different game obviously, but, hey once in a lifetime, I’ll take it.”

Aryes said he felt confident but mostly nervous until one of his teammates told him, “Just have fun. We don’t care if you let 10 goals in.”

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper tweeted, “I’m ready to make emergency goaltender and Zamboni driver David Ayres an honorary North Carolina citizen after courageous @Canes win.”

The Hurricanes t-shirt jersey with Ayres name printed on it is selling out quickly.

Ayres is a kidney transplant survivor and has chosen to donate all of the proceeds to “a kidney foundation in the Carolinas,” he told hosts of the TODAY show.