Gerry McNeil will forever be remembered for one goal he allowed -- Bill Barilko's Stanley Cup-winning shot in 1951. But there was much more to his career than goals allowed career.
McNeil starred with the Montreal Royals of the Quebec Senior Hockey League, earning the best goals against average in the league in both 1945-46 and '46-47, being named the first team all-star in 1947, '48 and '49 and was chosen the league's most valuable player three years consecutively -- 1947, 1948 and 1949 as well.
He was summoned to the Montreal Canadiens full-time in 1950-51 when Bill Durnan retired, playing every minute of every game in his rookie season. McNeil backstopped the Canadiens to the Stanley Cup finals against Toronto in 1951 and Detroit in 1952, but it wasn't until the 1952-53 season that he was able to lead the Canadiens to his own Stanley Cup. That same season, he was selected to the NHL's Second All-Star Team.
Towards the end of the 1953-54 season though, McNeil lost his starting position to a young superstar named Jacques Plante. But when the Canadiens were faced with elimination by Detroit in the 1953-54 Stanley Cup finals, Plante was pulled by coach Dick Irvin in favour of the veteran McNeil, who promptly won the next two games to force a seventh game. Unfortunately, in overtime in game seven, an easy shot by the Red Wings was tipped by Canadiens' defenceman Doug Harvey, and found the net behind McNeil to earn Detroit the Stanley Cup. The goal crushed McNeil, and he retired to coach junior hockey the next season. He did return to the game, playing minor league hockey until 1960-61, even earning a second Stanley Cup victory as Plante's back-up in 1956-57, but he never again was an NHL starter.