Hockey

From equipment manager to NHL goalie, Jorge Alves has night to remember

Carolina emergency goalie/equipment manager Jorge Alves (center) is congratulated by ‘teammate’ Lee Stempniak as the Hurricanes come off the ice in Tampa on Saturday night.
Carolina emergency goalie/equipment manager Jorge Alves (center) is congratulated by ‘teammate’ Lee Stempniak as the Hurricanes come off the ice in Tampa on Saturday night. AP

With one of their goalies sick while on the road in Tampa, the Carolina Hurricanes needed an emergency backup — and quick.

They knew just who to turn to.

Jorge Alves has been on the Carolina equipment staff since 2012 and often dons the pads in practices when needed.

On Saturday night, he was really, really needed.

Not only did the 37-year-old dress and sit on the bench in Carolina’s game against the host Lightning, but coach Bill Peters put Alves into the game in the closing seconds of a 3-1 loss to the Lightning making Alves an official NHL goalie.

“It's a night he'll never forget,” Peters said. “It couldn't happen to a better guy.”

Alves was pressed into service when Lack got sick in the afternoon following practicing at the morning skate.

The Hurricanes then turned to their equipment manager and signed him to an emergency contract at the arena.

“I've been skating with the guys for years now,” Alves told the Hurricanes’ website, “and it's always been kind of a joke around the locker room: 'Oh, you might go in today, you might go in today.’ For it to actually happen, it was a pinch-myself moment. It was an amazing experience.”

Alves, who played in a handful of minor league games in the ECHL for the likes of the South Carolina Stingrays and Greenville Grrrowl, continued his work as an equipment manager during Saturday’s game as he was pictured wrapping sticks on the bench and sharpening skates while in full goalie gear and his own custom No. 40 Carolina jersey.

“I have a duty to the team,” he said.

While Alves would have just been listed on the game sheet for dressing, he got into the game with 7.6 seconds left when Tampa Bay iced the puck to stop the clock. Peters yelled for Alves (who was heading back to the locker room) to get his stuff on and hit the ice.

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The faceoff happened on the opposite end of the ice and Alves never faced any action. That didn’t mean he didn’t have the time of his life.

Not only did he lead the team onto the Tampa ice before the game, but his teammates showered him with congratulations afterward as they all realized what a dream had just come true.

“It's special, it's unbelievable,” Alves told reporters. “It's still pretty emotional for me. Yeah, amazing.”

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