Jack McCartan was the goaltender on the last U.S. team to have won the gold, back in 1960 in Squaw Valley, California prior to Lake Placid in 1980. The more recent edition of Team USA went on to defeat the Russians 4-3 and capture the "Miracle on Ice" gold medal with a win over Finland in their last game. And the 1960 version, with McCartan's stellar netminding, won the gold over much more highly favored teams from Canada, the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia.
McCartan remembered that the American team he belonged to was a very close-knit hockey family. Prior to joining that magical collection of U.S. players for the 1960 Olympics, McCartan had been a college standout at the University of Minnesota (his home state). After he graduated, McCartan joined the army. While a member of the armed forces, he represented the U.S. in the World Championship in Prague, an event that provided the Americans with invaluable experience leading up to the Olympics in Squaw Valley.
After the Olympics, McCartan was called up to the NHL, appearing in four games near the end of the 1959-60 season with the New York Rangers, the team that signed him after his impressive play in Squaw Valley.
The save on Howe was about as good as it got for goalie McCartan in the NHL. After allowing a whopping 36 goals in only seven and a half games in 1960-61, he was sent to the minors by the Rangers and never returned to the big leagues, although he did play for the Minnesota Fighting Saints of the WHA for three seasons. He stayed in hockey as a scout for the Vancouver Canucks after his playing days were over.
But although his NHL career, was far from spectacular. Jack McCartan will long be remembered by Olympic hockey fans as the man between the pipes during the amazing upset victory registered by the U.S. in 1960, and it was on the strength of that performance that he was inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in 1983.