Tuesday, June 4, 2013

2001-02 Carolina Hurricanes Arturs Irbe Jersey

It was on this date in 2002 that the Carolina Hurricanes opened the Stanley Cup finals with a 3-2 overtime victory versus the Detroit Red Wings on a goal by Ron Francis. The series would feature the first matchup between two European born goaltenders, the Red Wings veteran Czech Dominik Hasek and Carolina's Latvian Arturs Irbe.

Irbe Hurricanes photo IrbeHurricansSCF.jpg
Arturs Irbe

Carolina was not expected to be much of a threat to even be in the finals. Despite winning the "South-least" Division with 91 points, they had the second lowest point total of any team in the playoffs that season!

Being that they were a division winner, such as it was, they were seeded third in the Eastern Conference, which allowed them to avoid a first round matchup with the #2 seeded Philadelphia Flyers. Instead, the Hurricanes faced the #6 seeded New Jersey Devils, who they eliminated 4 games to 2. They would advance to the finals by beating the #8 seed, the Montreal Canadiens and the #4 seed, the Toronto Maple Leafs, also by 4-2 margins.

Carolina would fall behind in Game 1 in Detroit on a goal by Sergei Fedorov at 15:21 the first period on a power play, but would equalize in the 2nd on a goal early in the second period from defenseman Sean Hill, also on the power play. The teams would trade goals later in the second, Kirk Maltby scoring for the Red Wings at 10:39 and Jeff O'Neill countering for the visitors at 19:10.

The third period passed scoreless as regulation ended deadlocked at 2-2 with the teams also tied in shots at 25 each.

Francis' winning goal came just 58 seconds into overtime from O'Neill and Sami Kapanen, giving Irbe, who had made 23 saves on 25 shots, his one and only Stanley Cup finals victory, as Detroit would go onto win the next four games to capture the cup.

Today's jersey is a 2001-02 Carolina Hurricanes Arturs Irbe jersey, featuring the 2002 Stanley Cup Finals patch. We are really a fans of the italicized font that the Hurricanes use for their jersey numbers. It really adds a touch of excitement and speed to the overall visual package and we're surprised more teams do not go that route. Currently only Carolina, Calgary and Winnipeg used italicized numbers.

The Hurricanes have used the same jerseys since moving to Carolina for the 1998-99 season, which included the transition to the Reebok Edge jerseys in 2007-08 with only minimal changes.

Carolina Hurricanes 01-02 jersey photo CarolinaHurricanes01-02F.jpg
Carolina Hurricanes 01-02 jersey photo CarolinaHurricanes01-02B.jpg
Carolina Hurricanes 01-02 jersey photo CarolinaHurricanes01-02P.jpg

Irbe is one of our all-time favorite players. He's got a great personal story and was a very popular player in San Jose and Carolina. Here is a glimpse into what made him unique, from making his own repairs to his aged pads and his pride in his Latvian homeland, which included standing up for what he believed in against the might of the Soviet Union at personal and professional risk.

Here are the highlights of Game 1 of the 2002 Stanley Cup Finals, which features several great saves
by Irbe, particularly one which came with the game tied with roughly nine minutes remaining in the third period.

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