Hurricanes’ fan nets a goal, makes notch on bucket list

calexander@newsobserver.comApril 14, 2013 

  • Next game Canes at Senators

    Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.

    TV: FSCR

— Jason Sorrentino drove nine hours and spent $3,000 to play in Sunday’s Carolina Hurricanes’ Alumni Game at PNC Arena.

Sorrentino then scored the game’s first goal, on a pass from Rod Brind’Amour in the first period. The puck in the back of the net, he received celebratory hugs from Brind’Amour and defenseman Glen Wesley.

Jason Sorrentino drove nine hours and spent $3,000 to play in Sunday’s Carolina Hurricanes’ Alumni Game at PNC Arena.

Sorrentino then scored the game’s first goal, on a pass from Rod Brind’Amour in the first period. The puck in the back of the net, he received celebratory hugs from Brind’Amour and defenseman Glen Wesley.

Brind’Amour and Wesley have their numbers retired by the Canes and their jerseys hang in the PNC Arena rafters. For Sorrentino, 39, it couldn’t be any better.

“This was on my bucket list,” Sorrentino said. “But scoring the goal? I’ll put this on top of the bucket list forever.

“This was my first game, ever, in any kind of arena. I scored, and I got the puck. I can die a happy man.”

The second annual Alumni Game had 19 paying participants and 12 former Hurricanes players taking the ice before a crowd of about 3,000. The money raised benefits the Canes’ Kids ’N Community Foundation.

Wesley scored the winning goal in the White team’s 5-3 victory against the Red. All penalties resulted in penalty shots rather than power plays, and Wesley’s penalty shot in the third period featured a spin-o-rama and then a backhand-to-forehand-to-backhand finish.

“Once he started into that spin, I knew I couldn’t make the save or I’d be the bad guy,” said Red goalie Jorge Alves, smiling.

Tripp Tracy, the Canes’ TV analyst, was the winning goalie for the White, and he and Alves both had some sparkling saves. Tracy smartly turned back shots by Hockey Hall of Famer Ron Francis and former Canes forward Cory Stillman, and Alves gloved a hard shot by Jesse Boulerice, another forward who played for the Canes.

Four of the goals were scored by the hockey alumni – Wesley, Stillman, Bates Battaglia and Steve Rice. But Geoff Allen, 23, a recent UNC-Wilmington graduate, scored off a Stillman pass. Matt Alala had a goal and Mike Hearne an empty-netter at the end.

“It was an incredible experience,” Allen said. “To meet people like Ron Francis, Glen Wesley .. I couldn’t imagine stepping on the same ice with them.”

Allen once played junior hockey for the Junior Hurricanes. He cheered as the Canes won the 2006 Stanley Cup.

“This is making a dream come true, being out there with guys you watched growing up,” he said.

Sorrentino, a corporate tax accountant from Short Hills, N.J., had one of the biggest smiles in the Hurricanes’ locker room after the game. He had an autographed jersey that he plans to frame. He had the puck. The drive back to New Jersey should be a good one.

“I wanted to play last year,” he said. “I became a season-ticket holder this year so it would guarantee me a chance to play. It was worth it.”

Alexander: 919-829-8945; Twitter: @ice_chip

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