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US Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 1983

Oscar Almquist
John "Jack" McCartan

1983 United States Hockey Hall of Fame Enshrinee

A product of America’s most prolific hockey hot bed, Eveleth, Minnesota, Almquist played goal for the high school team from 1923 through 1927.  After a two-year interval with Virginia of the Arrowhead Amateur League, he entered St. Mary’s College at Winona, Minnesota. At St. Mary’s, he played four varsity years and was named both team captain and to the All American team in 1932-33.  Almquist returned to Northeastern Minnesota after graduation to begin a four-year professional career, first with hometown Eveleth in the Central League, followed by three seasons with St. Paul in the American Hockey Association.  During this period, he was named to league all star teams in both the 1933-34 and 1935-36 seasons. 

The coaching career for which he would become legendary, began at Williams, Minnesota in 1937.  That year, he coached the high school team to a second-place finish in the district.  The following year saw Almquist move to Roseau where he coached the high school “B” team until 1941, while at the same time playing for the amateur Cloverleafs.  He also coached the amateurs for one season and continued to play for them through 1943. In 1941, the Eveleth native became Roseau’s head coach, a position he would hold until 1967. During this period, Roseau High School became a perennial power winning state titles in 1946, 1958, 1959, and 1961.  Roseau appeared in the state event fourteen times, and in addition to the state championships they were runner-ups on four occasions, third place finishers once, and captured two consolation titles.  When Almquist gave up coaching to become strictly athletic director and high school principal, his teams had posted a record of 404 wins, 148 losses, and 21 ties.  During the 1957 through 1959 seasons, the Rams ran off a string of 49 victories without a loss.

In recognition of his career achievements, Oscar Almquist was made an honorary life member of the American Hockey Coaches Association in 1969 and was elected to the Minnesota Hockey Coaches Hall of Fame in 1982.  In the words of Bernie Burggraf of the Roseau Times-Union, as far as hockey is concerned, he is truly a “Giant of the North.”

1983 United States Hockey Hall of Fame Enshrinee

In February 1960, University of Minnesota goaltender Jack McCartan was the driving force behind a group of unknown and unheralded hockey players who represented the United States at the Squaw Valley Olympics.  As a college player, he had twice been named to the All-American team, but nonetheless was a late addition to the 1960 Olympic team.

Playing before partisan crowds, the underdog United States team upset Canada, the Soviet Union, and Czechoslovakia, to capture America’s first gold medal in hockey.  The first indications that this was to be a different hockey Olympics occurred in the game against Canada.  The United States had defeated the “hockey motherland” in the 1956 Olympics and the Canadians were keying for the rematch.  McCartan made 39 stops, many of them of the unbelievable category, as the U.S. won 2-1 and built momentum toward the gold medal.  In the nationally televised game against the Soviets, he made 27 saves as in the words of the UI reporter covering the game: “Late in the period, McCartan had to fight like a cornered lion as the Russians drove in savagely on the attack.  It was a furious interval, but big Jack stood up – and laid down – under their bristling fire to hold them off.” 

Jack Riley, the gold medal coach, said of McCartan: “He was the most outstanding goalie I’ve ever seen.  Without him, we wouldn’t have been successful at Squaw Valley.”

After the Olympics, McCartan embarked on a fifteen-year career in professional hockey.  Appearing briefly in two different seasons with the New York Rangers, he was sent to Kitchener-Waterloo of the Eastern Professional League. In 1960-61, he had a sparkling 2.78 average in 52 games.  The following season, he led the league in shutouts with five.  Over the next decade plus, the St. Paul native played primarily in the Western League with lesser time in the Central League and World Hockey Association. In 1968-69 he was second team Western League goaltender while in both 1969-70 and 1970-71 he captured first team honors, all with San Diego.  He concluded his professional career in 1974 with the Minnesota Fighting Saints of the World Hockey Association.