John “Jack” Kirrane, the gritty defender who led Team USA to a stunning Olympic Gold upset at the 1960 Olympics that was dubbed “The Forgotten Miracle,” passed away on 26 Sep. in his hometown of Brookline, Massachusetts, at the age of 88.
Kirrane did not end up playing professionally, despite playing for the Boston Bruins’ farm team, the Boston Olympics, in the EAHL, opting to serve in the U.S. Army during the Korean War instead. Upon returning stateside, Kirrane served as a firefighter in Brookline, playing his final club season with the Worcester Warriors in 1955.
But it was internationally where Kirrane truly stands out. After serving as the youngest player on Team USA at the 1948 Olympics, Kirrane returned as the oldest player and captain of the 1960 team, heading to California at his own expense to anchor the squad. And twenty years before the legendary “Miracle on Ice,” Kirrane backstopped the U.S. to a stunning 3-2 victory over the powerhouse Soviet Union, giving the Americans clearance to cruise to an easy win over Czechoslovakia to capture their first ever Olympic Gold in ice hockey.
Kirrane would play for the U.S. as well at the 1963 World Championships before hanging up his skates, continuing his work with Brookline FD and spending 15 years as Harvard University’s rink manager. Our condolences go out to the Kirrane family, and the hockey world at large, in mourning the loss of this American hockey legend.