Other International Stars
Jack McCartan
United States

Most Americans think of the "Miracle on Ice" as their greatest hockey achievement. They commonly refer to the 1980 upset victory over the Soviet Red Army squad on route to only their second gold medal in Olympic hockey competition.

Their first gold medal was the original "Miracle on Ice." It wasn't at Lake Placid, but instead on the other side of the country, Squaw Valley California. And Mike Eruzione wasn't the hero, but goaltender Jack McCartan was.

McCartan, born in St. Paul Minnesota, and the United States were given little chance to win in 1960. With the Soviet squad quickly emerging as the international force and Canada not far removed from past Olympic glories.

After winning four games in the preliminary round, the upbeat American squad backed by the hometown fans passed their biggest test of the tournament by edging Canada, 2-1. McCartan was the difference, posting 39 saves.

Up next was the heavily favored Russians, yet the U.S. rallied from behind to stun the Red Army squad 3-2, thus advancing the United States into the gold medal game against Czechoslovakia. It was a close game for the first two periods. The Czechoslovakians held a 4-3 lead at the second intermission. But again the Americans rallied, this time exploding for six goals in the final fram to take the win 9-4 and the gold medal.

"We knew with a couple of breaks we could upset the odds." recalled goalie Jack McCartan. McCartan provided the team with those breaks, and inspired the American's to their first Olympic gold medal in hockey.

McCartan went on to a brief stint with the New York Rangers but was a minor leaguer for the most part at the pro level.

Further Research:
1960 Olympic gold medal
The First Miracle On Ice - ESPN Classic
Real miracle was in 1960 - Daily Press
The Cold Wars - Squaw Valley 1960 - CNNSI

 

Do You Believe in Miracles?: The Story of the 1980 US Olympic Hockey Team  (DVD) $30.45 Cdn
You don't need to know anything about hockey to be moved by this hourlong documentary about one of the greatest upsets in sports history: the United States' defeat of the vaunted Russian Olympic hockey team at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York. The story is retold in interviews with the people who lived it, including Brooks and several of the American players, sportscaster Al Michaels and key Russian players. Do You Believe in Miracles? is a solid blend of sports and history that focuses on the human element in one of the great underdog victories of all time