Saturday, June 4, 2016

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.

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Francis wins Game 1 in overtime against Dominik Hasek

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.

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Arturs Irbe

Carolina was not expected to be much of a threat to 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 rather than seventh, had the seedings been strictly on points. Instead facing the #2 seed, the Hurricanes faced the #6 seeded New Jersey Devils, who they eliminated 4 games to 2. Carolina 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.

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Team captain Francis with the Prince of Wales trophy

Carolina would fall behind in Game 1 in Detroit after a goal by Sergei Fedorov at 15:21 the first period on a power play, but the Hurricanes would equalize in the 2nd on a goal early in the period from defenseman Sean Hill, also on the power play at the 3:30 mark.

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Sean Hill is congratulated after his goal

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.

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Jeff O'Neill ties the game for Carolina

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

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Irbe fends off Pavel Datsyuk

Francis' game winning goal came just 58 seconds into overtime from O'Neill and Sami Kapanen, giving Irbe, who had made 23 saves on 25 shots, the victory.

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Kevyn Adams congratulates Irbe on the victory

This would prove to be Irbe's one and only Stanley Cup Final victory, as Detroit would go onto win the next four games to capture the cup.

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Hasek and Irbe greet each other after the final game

Today's jersey is a 2001-02 Carolina Hurricanes Arturs Irbe jersey. This jersey features the 2002 Stanley Cup Finals patch as worn by all the players on the upper right chest.

The Hurricanes used the same style 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, until the 2012-13 season - a 15 year run for the Hurricanes original look with their clever and unique hurricane warning flag waist stripe and their excellent italicized names and numbers, which unfortunately did not carry over to their new look.

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Irbe has a great personal story and was a very popular player in both 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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