SASKATOON-- The Zamboni driver-turned-NHL superstar David Ayres who rose to fame after becoming an emergency goaltender for the Caroline hurricanes arrived in Saskatoon Friday.
Ayres was at SaskTel centre to partner with the Saskatoon Blades as an ambassador for their organ donation night.
“I was all in right away,” he said during an interview Friday afternoon. “I knew that it was an organ donation night and I had a kidney transplant, so any chance I have to use a platform to get that out there, I am all in.”
The 45-year-old was diagnosed with kidney disease in 2004, and that same year received an organ donation from his mother.
Close to 15 years later, Ayres captured the hearts of hockey fans when he made his way onto the ice as an emergency goalie for the Carolina Hurricanes after the team lost two goalies due to injuries on Feb. 22 in a game in Toronto.
“Once the first goalie went down I had to get half-dressed, so that was the routine,” he said.
“When they told me to get in and get the rest on, then your heart starts pumping right away. You hear everyone go crazy and you start getting nervous.”
Ayres then picked up his first NHL win, as the Hurricanes beat the Maple Leafs 6-3.
Following the memorable game, Ayres has travelled across North America signing autographs for his new fans while also raising awareness for kidney disease.
“Over the last year or two I have been working with St. Michaels’ hospital in Toronto, I put a couple articles together, so I was trying to do things on a smaller scale but now it is on a much bigger scale, but anything I can do to get the awareness out there I am going to take advantage of it.
Ayres will be on the ice when the Saskatoon Blades face off against the Regina Pats on Friday night.