Desperate for backup goalie, AHL's Toronto Marlies sign Zamboni driver

It’s been a crazy week for goaltending in the Toronto Maple Leafs organization.

First, Garret Sparks emerged as a feel-good story after his first NHL start. Then, because of that, Jonathan Bernier is sent down to the AHL’s Toronto Marlies for a conditioning stint, leaving Sparks and James Reimer as the two netminders for the Leafs.

But on Friday, Reimer was declared day-to-day with an injury, forcing the NHL club to recall Antoine Bibeau to join them in St. Louis. That left the Marlies in a pinch with no one to back up Bernier for his first start against the Rochester Americans.

Enter David Ayres, the building operations manager for the Mattamy Athletic Centre. The 38-year old, who is sometimes part of the Marlies’ ice crew and drives the Zamboni during games, signed an amateur tryout deal hours before the puck was dropped in Rochester.

“It was pretty quick. I didn’t really have a chance. I gave my brother a call on my way down here and he was pretty excited about it,” Ayers said afterward, via David Alter of the National Post. “But they’re happy. My phone actually blew up. I just pulled it out of my pocket and I had 17 or 20 messages in there, all pictures of me on here and this and that. That’s kind of neat.”

Ayres didn’t get into game action as the Marlies blanked the Americans 4-0 and Bernier stopped all 22 shots he faced. Sadly, immediately following the game he was released, but did at least get a new addition to his Elite Prospects profile.

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Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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