A-E wonders if an arm would be enough to imitate Jorge Alves, even for 7.6 seconds. Here’s the story that’s especially inspiring if you’ve been a National Hockey League fan for almost 70 years: “Before that Saturday night game at Tampa Bay in January, the Carolina Hurricanes signed equipment manager Jorge Alves to a professional tryout contract to be the backup goaltender to replace Eddie Lack, who was ill,” the Associated Press reported.

“Alves, 37, wound up playing the final 7.6 seconds of the game after replacing regular ‘Canes goalie Cam Ward. “It’s special, it’s unbelievable,” said Alves, who didn’t face a shot in the 3-1 loss to the Lightning. “It’s still pretty emotional for me. Yeah, amazing. I just remember looking down the ice and seeing the puck in the corner, and saying, ‘Stay in that corner.’”

“The Hurricanes had Alves lead the team onto the ice for warm-ups, letting him skate around the Carolina zone in his No. 40 jersey by himself before joining him.

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

“Carolina, on its Twitter account, showed Alves sharpening skates and taping a stick while in uniform during the game.

“Can’t shake the habit,” Alves said with a smile. “I have a duty to the team.”

“Alves has been one of Carolina’s full-time equipment managers since the 2012-13 season and practices with the team on a regular basis. He played on North Carolina State University’s club hockey team for the 2002-03 and 2003-04 seasons and had several short stints in the ECHL and Southern Professional Hockey League.

“It’s been a joke around the locker room that I might go in today,” said Alves, whose mask features his fellow equipment managers. “And for it to actually happen, I kind of pinched myself.”

“Alves moved to Raleigh in 2001 following four years in the U.S. Marine Corps, and he has been with Carolina’s equipment staff since 2003-04.”

As a youth, A-E played “shinny,” informal hockey on ponds in the Northeast and the colder regions of Canada, which is every square inch of our neighbor north of the border. Didn’t take much insight for A-E to realize he was no match for Ken Dryden, the Cornell goalie who immediately started for the Montreal Canadiens (French spelling convention this time, Neal) after he graduated from college.

How informal is shinny? A-E duct taped Life and Look magazines around his legs as shin pads for the games. His only official equipment? Skates and a wooden stick that lacked the barn-door size component that graces real hockey goalie sticks.

No face masks then: the closest A-E came to a head injury was once when neighbor Howard Vanderbilt, who was on the same team as A-E, inadvertently spun around and fired at his own goal, the net A-E was zealously, if clumsily, guarding. The puck glanced of his face mask.

On second thought, maybe playing 7.6 second in an NHL goal would be worth a limb.

Ode to ASAP cheap gasoline

Lots of news media said this isn’t exactly high driving season but for those who venture out on the roads, there will be plenty of relatively cheap gasoline.

Gas prices have been falling for about three weeks, with the snow and rain of the winter season having dampened demand for driving, says Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.com.

Gas prices last week stood at almost $2.29 a gallon nationally, still up from the $1.82 a gallon on the same date a year ago, according to AAA’s daily Fuel Gauge Report.

Once Valentine’s Day is over, buckle up, AAA predicts. Good old supply-and-demand will take back over and prices per gallon will rise again.

 

—When he’s not dreaming about an NHL career (or 7.6 seconds in the NHL) A-E hunts and pecks his column in Canisteo.