The Carolina Hurricanes may have fallen to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday, but Jorge Alves left the ice a true winner.
The Hurricanes' 37-year-old equipment manager fulfilled his lifelong dream of becoming an NHL player by signing a professional tryout contract to serve as the team's backup goaltender on New Year's Eve.
With regular backup Eddie Lack out with an illness, coach Bill Peters put Alves in the net with 7.6 seconds remaining in the third period. When the final buzzer sounded, alternate captain Jeff Skinner gave Alves the game puck.
"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,'" he told reporters after the game. "It was … amazing. I couldn't believe it.
"I just remembered looking down the ice and seeing the puck in the corner and saying, 'Stay in that corner'. Yeah, it was amazing. It's still pretty emotional for me."
Alves played with NC State University’s club hockey team from 2002-04 before several short stints in the ECHL and Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL). He first began working with Carolina’s equipment staff during the 2003-04 season and has been one of the team's full-time equipment managers since the 2012-13 season.