Emergency hockey hero David Ayres sounds siren at Canes game

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- David Ayres is now an official honorary North Carolinian.

He didn't indicate any plans Tuesday to relocate from the Toronto area down to the Triangle, but given the red carpet treatment he's received, he has to at least be thinking about it.

From arena operations manager to man of the hour, what an insane turn of events.

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The proclamation was read this morning in the media room at PNC Arena. After all the whereas's were out of the way, "February 25th, 2020, in the city of Raleigh is David Ayres Day... "

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"Thank you very much," said Ayres.

It's impossible to imagine how living life at light speed must feel but that's been the reality for Ayres and his wife Sarah since Saturday night.

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I asked him the first question of his press conference Tuesday -- simply -- how are you still upright?

"I had a couple hours sleep last night, so that was fantastic but I'm definitely tired," Ayres said.

A self described "quiet guy," Ayres is now fielding movie and book pitches.

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He said he's yet to hire an agent but is mostly ready for a return to regular life. That said, he wouldn't trade Saturday's experience for the world.

"We talked about it and I said it'd be great if I could get in there. I'm confident in myself that I could go in there and not make a fool of myself and I could play."

Ayres had been the designated "Emergency Goalie" on perhaps 100 occasions previously.

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This was only the fourth time he had needed to even get on his gear. When Petr Mrazek charged out of his net and sustained a concussion, the dream he'd discussed with his wife suddenly came to fruition.

Sarah Ayres couldn't believe what she was seeing.

After what seemed an interminable wait, there was her husband of two-plus years actually taking the ice.

"I actually grabbed the guy who I didn't know beside me and I screamed 'that's my husband!' It was like a wave and then everyone in our area knew and they were coming up and people bought me beers and everything to try and help me calm down."

After getting beat on the first two shots he saw, Ayres and the Hurricanes defense shut things down. The Leafs only managed eight more shots and none of them got past Ayres. At one point he even denied his good friend, Leafs sharpshooter Auston Matthews.

"In between the 2nd and 3rd (periods), the coach and the players they all said 'just have fun, don't worry about it, we got you.' I said to them, 'I promise I'll be better in the 3rd.'"

He was. And as soon as the game ended, his life exploded. He and Sarah were unable to even connect until about 90 minutes after the game, such was the crush of media. When they did connect though, it was a moment they'll never forget.

"It was the best feeling to see his smile and I think it was the longest hardest hug we've had."

Tuesday night, Ayres sounds the Storm Siren. He's readying his arm for that moment, but maybe more importantly, he's ready to join the Storm Surge if the Canes win.

"I'd be all over that. Even if I had to slide like a penguin on the ice, pssshhh, I'd be right there. I'd do it."

The Carolina Hurricanes lost 4-1 to the Dallas Stars.
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