Memorable Olympic goaltending has been an American staple, and that was true long before NHL players were given permission to play in 1998.
Jack McCartan and Jim Craig were not household names when they led the U.S. to gold medals in 1960 at Squaw Valley and 1980 in Lake Placid, respectively. Mike “Lefty” Curran was 27 when he led the U.S. to a silver medal at the 1972 Games in Sapporo, Japan.
Nobody had heard of career minor leaguer Ray LeBlanc before he endeared himself to fans with a scintillating performance at the 1992 Olympic Games in France.
With the NHL declining to allow active players or signed prospects to play in next year’s Olympics, the Americans are looking for another LeBlanc to be their No. 1 goalie in PyeongChang, South Korea. Here are the most intriguing candidates:
David Leggio, 32, Munich, German league: The former Clarkson goalie was 16-8 with a 2.36 goals-against average for a Munich team that won the DEL (Deutschland Eishockey Liga) playoff title. Previously, Leggio helped TPS win the Finland championship in 2010. He has played impressively for the U.S. at the Deutschland Cup in the past.
Leggio is also known for two other distinctions. Playing in an AHL game in 2014-15 and facing a two-on-none short-handed breakaway, Leggio elected to purposely knock the net off the mooring. He figured he had a better chance facing a penalty shot. That led to the implementation of “Leggio Rule” in the AHL. Now a goalie faces an automatic game misconduct and a team can choose anyone to take the penalty shot.
Also, Leggio’s impersonation of NBC hockey analyst Pierre McGuire has receive more than 160,000 views on YouTube.
Ryan Zapolski, 30, Jokerit Helsinki (Kontinental Hockey League): Has played the past four seasons in Europe and posted a 2.22 goals-against average and .931 save percentage before his team was eliminated in…