Call it hockey’s version of Rudy.
In December, Carolina Hurricanes equipment manager Jorge Alves signed a professional tryout contract and became the backup goaltender for Cam Ward. Regular second-stringer Eddie Lack was ill on New Year’s Eve, so Alves was in uniform when the Hurricanes faced the Tampa Bay Lightning.
He was also wrapping sticks and fixing equipment during the game. But with Carolina losing 3-1 in the final seconds of the game, an icing call allowed Hurricanes coach Bill Peters to put Alves into the net. The 37-year-old played the final 7.6 seconds and did not face a shot, but his name is now in the record books.
Upper Deck decided to commemorate Alves’ moment, issuing a Young Guns promotional rookie card that will be available in February in shops throughout North Carolina. Collectors who make any 2016-17 Upper Deck pack purchases at selected North Carolina shops will receive the Alves card as a gift.
Upper Deck also will release an Alves rookie card in the upcoming 2016-17 NHL Compendium set.
Alves called his brief time in net “special” and “unbelievable.”
“It’s still pretty emotional for me. Yeah, amazing,” Alves told ESPN. “I just remember looking down the ice and seeing the puck in the corner, and saying, ‘Stay in that corner.’”
In an interview with Upper Deck, Alves said that getting his own rookie card will be “icing on the cake.”
“I first started collecting cards when I was a kid and just remember the excitement of opening a pack and not knowing who might be in it,” he said. “I just remember it being so much fun and now that my kids are getting old enough they too will enjoy that experience.
“I still have my cards from back then, and now that I will have an official rookie card, I hope that my kids will add me to their stack of favorite players once I pass on my collection.”
Alves has been with Carolina’s equipment staff since the 2003-04 season, becoming a full-time employee in 2012-13. He does have some hockey experience, playing club league at North Carolina State for two seasons and appearing in the ECHL and the Southern Professional Hockey League. He moved to North Carolina in 2001 after serving four years in the Marines.
Alves’ mask features his fellow equipment managers, a move that he said was “a no-brainer.”
“The inspiration came from the respect of the guys I work with,” Alves told Upper Deck. “They all work very hard and I am grateful to them for what they have taught me and are still teaching me.
“If I was ever going to get this opportunity, I also wanted to make them a part of it and show everyone my appreciation for them.”
Upper Deck liked the opportunity to showcase a player who finally realized a dream and noted on Alves’ Young Guns card that the goalie “is sure to be a hot prospect for years to come.”