Introducing Hurricanes Goalie Jorge Alves

Every once in a while, the entire hockey world can look at something and appreciate it. Such a moment came Saturday in Tampa Bay when the Carolina Hurricanes were preparing to take on the Lightning to close out 2016. With goaltender Eddie Lack feeling under the weather, the Hurricanes were in need of a backup.

The issue, however, was that the team was on the road and options were very clearly limited. While the team didn’t have another goalie on the roster, they did have equipment manager Jorge Alves. The 37-year-old Alves played very limited minutes in the SPHL and ECHL in his career, logging a total of 107 minutes in nine games from 2004 to 2007.

The Hurricanes were in a bind, and Alves was more than capable of stepping up and acting as the backup for Ward. Carolina signed Alves to a professional tryout offer (PTO) and officially named him as the backup for the game – Alves’ first opportunity in the NHL.

‘It’s a surprise. It’s unbelievable. I was actually heading back down into the tunnel when I heard my name. I looked back and I was like, ‘What?’ And coach said, ‘Get your stuff on,” Alves said when talking with reporters after the game. ‘It was … amazing. I couldn’t believe it.’

It isn’t unheard of for coaching staff, equipment managers or the like, to get called in due to emergency circumstances. While they sit on the bench in full equipment and are ready to play in the event that the starting goalie is hurt, typically, those team staff members don’t ever see ice time. For Alves, however, the situation was a little bit different.

An Opportunity of a Lifetime

With 7.6 seconds remaining in the game, the Hurricanes trailed the Lightning by a score of 3-1. With that in mind, head coach Bill Peters took Ward out of the game and put Alves in to close out the game. While Alves didn’t see any shots, he did become an official on-record NHL goalie as a result — a feel-good story for an equipment manager that stepped up when his team needed it.

“I just remembered looking down the ice and seeing the puck in the corner and saying “Stay in that corner.” Alves said. “It was amazing. It’s still pretty emotional for me.”

Despite being an NHL goalie, Alves never lost touch with what his official role on the team was, and continues to be. The Hurricanes posted pictures of Alves sharpening skates as he normally would on game-day — though his attire looked slightly different than it normally would.

Alves also worked on the Hurricanes’ sticks while on the bench. An equipment manager’s job is never done. Alves showed that he takes pride in his work regardless of the situation he’s in.

“Can’t shake the habit,” Alves joked following the game when talking about fulfilling his equipment manager duties. “No, I have a duty with the team and I wasn’t going to break that.”

Earning the Respect of His Teammates

Following the game, Hurricanes’ forward Jeff Skinner gave Alves a token to remember the moment. Prior to leaving the ice, Skinner skated over to Alves and dropped something into the goaltenders’ glove. That something, of course, was the game puck.

Showing his appreciation to his equipment manager and teammate, Ward also let Alves know he was appreciated. With the rest of the team exiting to the visitors’ locker room, the Hurricanes’ netminder waited for Alves on the bench in a heartwarming sign of respect.

‘I’ve been skating with the guys for years now, 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.’

– Jorge Alves

“I think it was a special night. It was a night he’ll never forget,” head coach Bill Peters said. “It was the perfect storm of opportunity for him, and it couldn’t happen to a better guy.”

When Alves joined the Hurricanes, he probably didn’t anticipate the opportunity he would one day be given. Though 7.6 seconds may not seem like much, it was enough to make what could have been a normal day at the office a night to remember forever for Alves.