The main reason why Team USA was able to win Gold at those two Olympics was because of the play of their goaltender. In 1960, it was the terrific play of netminder Jack McCartan and in 1980, it was the unbelievable play of masked man Jimmy Craig.
While both goaltenders got the job done on the international stage, they were not able to get done in the NHL. Both of these guys knew how to win and had the talent to be a great goaltender but in the NHL, these abilities were all for naught.
With that in mind, let's take a look at some of hockey's one save wonders.
Jack McCartan, New York Rangers
If you’re a die-hard hockey fan who grew up in the 1950s and early ’60s, this name might sound familiar.
Jack McCartan is known for being the first United States Olympic goaltender to win a gold medal. McCartan won gold in 1960 back in Squaw Valley, California, before Jim Craig (later for him) accomplished the same feat in 1980 in Lake Placid.
Unfortunately for McCartan, his NHL career was far from spectacular. MCartan’s strong play impressed the New York Rangers enough to sign him after his impressive play.
McCartan did not fare well at all in the big leagues. In the 1960-61 season, the Olympic champ played in seven-and-a-half games and allowed a whopping total of 36 goals. In comparison, McCartan allowed just 17 goals in seven games in the Olympics and was clearly the best goaltender in the tournament.
McCartan would end up being sent down to the minors and never returned to the NHL.
Jim Carey, Washington Capitals, Boston Bruins, St. Louis Blues
After the Washington Capitals parted ways with veteran goaltender Don Beaupre after the 1993-94 season, the Capitals were in the hunt for a new netminder that they could rely on to be their No. 1.
The Capitals appeared to have found their man during the lockout-shortened 1994-95 season. Jim “Net Detective” Carey. That season, Carey took the NHL by storm, going 18-6-3 with a 2.13 goals against average (GAA), a .913 save percentage and four shutouts.
For his strong play in ’94-95, Carey finished third in voting for the Vezina Trophy as the league’s best goaltender. The Net Detective also finished second in voting for the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie and third in voting for the NHL all-star team.
Believe it or not, Carey was even better the following season, as he posted a league-best nine shutouts, won 35 games, had a 2.26 GAA and a .906 save percentage. After the season, Carey was awarded the Vezina Trophy, was named to the NHL First All-Star Team, and finished eighth in voting for the Hart Trophy as the league’s most valuable player.