Good day hockey fans! Today marks the 40th anniversary of the greatest sports moment and upset in history! Forty years ago today, the United States Men’s Olympic ice hockey team defeated, shocked, and upset the highly favored Soviet Union 4-3 in what will forever be called the “Miracle on Ice”. USA Captain Mike Eruzione would cement himself in history as he scored the game winning goal which allowed this miracle to happen. Days later, the United States went onto win the gold medal as they defeated Finland 4-2 in come from behind fashion scoring three goals in the third period.
I wasn’t born yet when this amazing moment happened however, as a hockey fan and as an American it definitely has a lot of meaning for me. Watching the game highlights, documentaries, and especially the famous Disney movie “Miracle” certainly gives you all the feelings of what it was like back then. They help you to understand why this was such a big moment in sports and hockey history. I’m going to dissect for everyone quickly with three reasons why this was an amazing “Miracle”.
Reason 1: A Bunch of College Kids
Part of what made this “Miracle” special was it was done by a group of young college amateurs and not by professionals. These “amateurs” beat a group of bona fide Hockey Hall of Famers.
Professional players from the NHL couldn’t beat and stand up to the dominant Soviet Union team. The Soviets clearly outplayed our “professionals” especially in the NHL Challenge Cup back in 1979. However, these “young kids” could and did despite the Soviets outplaying the USA in an exhibition game days before the opening of the 1980 Winter Olympics. Obviously this team was very young and featured amateur college hockey players. Most of these “kids” on the USA Olympic Ice Hockey team of 1980 mostly came from Massachusetts and Minnesota. They represented and played for colleges such as Boston University, University of Minnesota, Minnesota Duluth, Bowling Green, North Dakota, and Wisconsin. The players picked on this team weren’t viewed by most to be “the right players” and not considered to be good enough to help win Olympic Gold. However, Coach Herb Brooks saw a lot more in these young “college kids”. They bought into a hybrid system of the Canadian and Soviet way of playing hockey that was be able to defeat a highly powered and skilled Soviet Union team. Their belief in their abilities to do the “impossible” truly gives hope to many that nothing is impossible and we can all achieve great things!
Reason 2: Dominance of the Soviet Union
Another reason why this is a “Miracle on Ice” is because of how the Soviet Union dominated the Olympic Ice Hockey competition from 1964 up until 1980.
The Soviet Union had won four Olympic gold medals from 1964 up until they were upset by the United States in 1980. Also, the Soviets until the “Miracle on Ice” had not lost a game in Olympic play since 1968. Clearly, the Soviet Union hockey team was a force to be reckoned with. It featured star players such as Boris Mikhailov, Sergei Makarov, Valerei Kharlamov, Vladimir Petrov, Slava Fetisov, and especially one of the all time greats in goaltender Vladislav Tretiak.
The simple fact that a group of “college kids” was able to beat a group of future Hall of Famer‘s who dominated the game they way they did truly is a miracle in itself!
Reason 3: More than just a game
Besides the game and the upset that happened, there was a lot going on in the United States at the time. At the time, there was a lot of international tension and a lot of frustrations domestically that had taken away the usual pride and feelings of optimism being an American. However, this 1980 team provided a distraction from all the negativity that was going on at the time and gave back hope, optimism, and pride of what its meant to feel being an American. That in itself is a miracle to be able to give all those feelings back to a nation that was facing many challenges at the time especially while the Cold War was going on between the United States and Soviet Union.
“Do you believe in miracles” -Al Michaels
To answer that question, Yes I do! I also know and believe others do as well! This story of young college kids continues to provide not only myself but others as well that there is always hope and that miracles really do happen!