Where to even begin.

As I said on Twitter shortly after Saturday’s game ended:

Forty years to the from the Miracle on Ice in Lake Placid, New York in 1980, Saturday’s game offered another hockey miracle of epic proportions.

The game started as a hard-fought game between two teams needing points to make the playoffs and had a bit of extra rough and tumble.

That rough and tumble ultimately made for a night to go down in not just Hurricanes but NHL history.

James Reimer left the game in the first period after Jaccob Slavin was plowed into him for a goalie interference penalty.

Then Petr Mrazek inexplicably went to play a puck way out of net and toward the side boards. With his head down trying to play the puck, Kyle Clifford hit an oncoming Mrazek like a truck. Mrazek, his helmet and his stick all went flying and Mrazek landed head first on the ice.

And that is when the story begins.

Emergency backup goalie David Ayres took the net for the Canes midway through the third period. Suddenly, the Hurricanes 3-1 lead did not look so good. The Hurricanes tacked on another goal to go up 4-1, but when John Tavares and Pierre Engvall beat Ayres like the rec league goalie that he is, this game seemed certain to tilt in the Maple Leafs favor in the final period plus.

But the Hurricanes dialed up their compete level to maximum, and Ayres showed he was capable of stopping a shot or two if needed. And the rest is history. The Hurricanes completely dominated the third period, and Ayers settled in to be sound down the stretch. With the game-winning goal scored with Ayers in the game, the Zamboni driver for the AHL Marlies won an NHL game in Toronto on Hockey Night in Canada.

Once Ayers settled in, the game completely reminded me of watching the Miracle on Ice 40 years ago. The little kid part of me remembered the latter part of that game in 1980, watching with my heart racing and praying that the good guys would somehow hold off the pressure down the stretch and prevail. And just like in 1980, the good guys did somehow survive and prevail to create a tremendous story for hockey history.

As I said on Twitter:

There really just is nothing like this, where a commoner nowhere close to professional level steps into a real game and helps decide it for a win.

If you get a chance on Sunday, find all the video you can find of the game and celebrations afterwards and also great articles covering the event from different angles (and feel free to post links to any great articles in the comments here).


A few quick comments on the game itself

The game was truly a special one in terms of the Canes just dialing up their compete level to overcome the seemingly impossible. In addition to be down both goalies, the team was also missing Brett Pesce who left with an injury.

Warren Foegele was a menace at the top of the crease all game. When the Canes needed to go warrior mode, he led the way.

On a night with many heroes, Jaccob Slavin was the team’s best player logging over 27 minutes of ice time.


The hangover

As fun as Saturday was, the team will wake up on Sunday morning and be down possibly two goalies and one of its two bona fide top 4 defensemen in Brett Pesce. Pesce seemed to be cut on the and or arm when a Leafs players’ skate came up. In his post-game, Brind’Amour suggested that Pesce and Reimer would be out awhile and did not have much to offer on Mrazek. With the trade deadline looming for Monday, Don Waddell and the management team will need to make some tough decisions in the next couple days.


Next up for the Hurricanes is the Monday trade deadline, and then the final quarter of the 2019-20 NHL season starts with a home game against the Dallas Stars on Tuesday.


Go Canes!


Share This