Every living member of the 1980 USA Olympic hockey team returned to Lake Placid, NY this week to celebrate the “Relive the Miracle Reunion” of perhaps the greatest upset in team sports history.
35 years after an underdog USA hockey team shocked a heavily favored Russian squad in the 1980 Winter Olympics, fans still vividly recall the amazing game and the strained political climate of the era.
That’s because the 1970s was a decade comprised of war protests, a Presidential scandal, and a troubling economy. In the midst of those uncertain and depressing times, Americans were nervous and ripe for a miracle to lift their spirits.
February 22, 1980 marked a national day of pride for Americans. It brought forth a miracle in the highly competitive arena of international sports.
Known as the Miracle on Ice, an unlikely hockey victory took place at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, NY and lifted America out of its funk. The event birthed one of the most amazing upsets in the history of sports.
Team USA’s stunning upset over the heavily favored Soviet Union National Hockey Team still stands as one of the greatest victories in the history of team sports. This USA win remains an unforgettable highlight of the 1980 Winter Olympic Games.
The semi-final match-up between the USA and the USSR not only paired two world super powers facing off against each other. It also featured a team of much younger American collegiate stars skating against older, better skilled and highly experienced Russians. These Russian players had been playing hockey professionally in Europe for many years.
The legendary Soviets dominated international hockey. They captured gold medals at the four previous Winter Olympics and held claim to 14 of the past 17 World Hockey Championships. They were major favorites. The scrappy Americans’ success in the semi-final would require a divine act to win.
Surprisingly, the Americans stayed close during the first two periods. Then, midway through the third period, the youthful Americans shocked the favored Russians. Captain Mike Eruzione found the back of the net past the Russian goalie and gave the USA a 4 – 3 lead.
The Russians found themselves trailing in the third period of this hockey game. They were unable to make up the American lead against a little known USA goalie named Jim Craig. Craig successfully turned back 30 shots that day against the otherwise superior Russians.
With the Americans clinging to a one goal lead, the game clock slowly wound down. As the final buzzer sounded, legendary NBC sportscaster Al Michaels shouted, “Do you believe in miracles? Yes!”
In the case of the 1980 USA Hockey Team, the unbelievable happened in Lake Placid, NY with one of the greatest upsets in the history of sports. This uplifting and divine sports event will be forever remembered as the Miracle on Ice.
R.I.P. to USA team coach Herb Brooks and defenseman Bob Suter who were the only members of the 1980 Miracle on Ice team not present for the “Relive the Miracle Reunion.”
Thanks for the incredible memory that still resonates 35 years later.
MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!