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February 22, 1980: The Miracle on Ice
A day that I still remember as someone who has played hockey. I was still playing competitive full-contact hockey in the early 1980s. Everyone I knew that was playing knew the names of the Russian players.
College kids beat the Soviet Union team in an Olympic hockey match. College kids playing against the strongest hockey team in the world. They went on to win the Olympic Gold Medal.
.Published in Sports
I do believe in miracles! I do, I do ,I do…
Everyone should watch the movie, if they have not seen it. Kurt Russell is great!
I was watching a documentary years later and one of the Russians — I think it was Tretiak — said when they got back to the USSR (cue the Beatles) someone said to him “You lost to some students?”
We still remember watching the game; it was only on a delayed broadcast, and during the second intermission, the local news person came on and revealed the result. She never lived it down.
I went to a college and careers group at church that evening and told them about the miracle.
Obviously, you don’t win with just one guy, but MVP goes to Goalie Jim Craig, pride of (Richard?) Easton MA.
A bunch of us in the frat were avoiding all news in order to catch the game. It was down to the last four minutes when a pledge wandered into the room and blurted “Don’t you guys know what happened?”
He was set upon and prevented from speaking for the rest of the game.
I agree. Fantastic period piece, even if you are not a hockey fan. And Kurt Russell’s performance may be one of the most underrated/ignored in the last few decades. Shout out to Patricia Clarkson also — just fantastic!
The 1981 film was written by one of Hollywood’s staunchest conservatives, Lionel Chetwynd.
Back when the Olympics weren’t TOTALY professional.
The NHL owners don’t want their players to compete in the Olympic Games due to injury concerns and scheduling issues during the Olympics.
Going forward we’ll see more college, Major Junior, and some professional hockey players from teams that are a step or two below the NHL competing in the Olympics.
All the guys on my team, and the teams we played against were reading The Hockey News when it was a newspaper. The Hockey News covered stories and standings across the hockey world. Before the 1980 Olympic Games we all had a pretty good idea of the who’s who of international hockey.
Side note, the greatest collection of professionals was the Olympics Dream Team. It is sad that all the video from that era is crappy VHS quality. Jordan, Bird & Magic toyed with other teams.
How the team was created. “The name on the front of your jersey [USA] is a hell of more important than the [your] name on the back.”
Kurt Russell absolutely nailed Herb Brooks. Minnesotans who had watched Herb Brooks for decades loved the movie and especially Kurt Russell’s portrayal.
It was such a magical event. I was driving home from college that Friday night as our spring break started that week, my parents left for vacation and left me in charge of the family business while they were gone. I had to get home so as to be at the store on Saturday morning. The radio reception was quite grainy but I kept it on and had to change to different stations as I drove. It was as incredible as the movie portrays, even more so. I had recently returned from a college seminar in Poland and the Soviet Union. America had taken it in the chops from the Soviets on so many different fronts for so long. This was such a glorious moment to show what the American system/culture could produce. A bunch of boys beating the most diciplined/experienced team in the world.
I remember it was, senior year of HS. I Watched it with a bunch of friends.
I was in high school and being from Nevada not a hockey player. Nevertheless I had the fever and watched in awe as those kids scrapped their way to a win then went on for the gold. Great memory. Thanks for posting.
I, too, have fond memories of this from my senior year of high school. I was especially lucky to have spent the first week of the Olympics in Lake Placid with my Dad. I believe I saw the US hockey team win their easiest victory over Romania. The other big draw that Olympics, was Eric Heiden winning 5 gold medals.
It was a last minute trip made possible by the misfortune of the Taiwanese Olympic team. At the time, the IOC would not recognize the Republic of China as a separate entity from the PRC. Hoping to get a legal ruling that they could compete, the team showed up to Lake Placid and took accommodations in a modest motel on the edge of town run by a Czech immigrant family. When the courts or IOC (not sure which) issued a final ruling against the Taiwanese, the little motel suddenly had rooms available a week or so before the start of the games. Because my mother’s family vacationed every summer in Lake Placid (starting in the 1920s or 30s right through the 1970s and 80s), we were well acquainted with the proprietress, and she called to ask if we would like a room. My dad jumped at the offer.
Everything about those Olympics was different from what we expect now. It was really the last small town to host the games. You had to park your car several miles out of town and take a bus into Lake Placid itself. You could only do that if you had a ticket for an event, so we had to get something from a tour operator for the first day (drunk Finns at a hockey game is my memory). Once in town, we were able to buy scalped tickets, and if I recall, there were some official ticket booths for less desirable events. The athlete’s village was notoriously spartan, and was turned into a prison afterwards. The high school track was turned into the speed skating oval, and remains there today. I also remember that they decided to hold the medal ceremonies in the evening on the frozen Mirror Lake (which is a smaller lake in the center of town). There was some concern that all the people showing up might not be enough for the ice to hold, and I believe, they took some moves to limit the crowds. No tragedy occurred, anyway.
Overall, the games seemed to be good for Lake Placid, at least through the 80s. The town was revamped, and was doing better for a while. I’m less familiar with it now. I think it’s still a destination for some youth hockey tournaments. But, for two weeks in 1980, upstate NY was the symbolic center of the Cold War.
We went on several vacations there in the 90s, a couple times to take our son and a friend to hockey camps held at the arena where the miracle game took place. I enjoyed sitting in the stands watching the kids go through drills while imagining I was there for the big game.
I watched the 1960 US olympic hockey team win the gold at Squaw Valley. That was the first TV coverage of the winter Olympic games. I think that upset was bigger than the 1980 and just as exciting.
That was before my time, so I’m not sure if the upset was bigger than in 1980. But as the movie Miracle takes pains to point out, Herb Brooks was the last man cut from the 1960 Olympic squad.
The U.S. Olympic hockey team defeated the Soviet Union in the semifinals at the Winter Games in Squaw Valley, California on February 27, 1960. The next day, the U.S. beats Czechoslovakia to win its first-ever Olympic gold medal in hockey.
Herb Brooks was the last player cut from the 1960 US Hockey Team.
The Canadians and the Soviets were the overwhelming favorites to win gold with Sweden and the Checks also in the running. The US wasn’t expected to get by the first rounds. They were a team put together from collages and clubs just one month before the games. But they beat everyone. The Checks twice. The game with the Soviets was a come from behind win ro get to the finals, but probably the best performance was a 2-1 win over the Canadians in which the US goalie made 39 saves. He also had a great game vs the Soviets.