I was a 7 year old kid, just about to turn 8, and my family was living in the small town of Vienna,Virginia in the United States. Being a Canadian boy, I was a lover of hockey and there wasn't a lot of love for hockey in Virginia. But there was one event that changes all of that...
It was the Winter Olympics at Lake Placid, a tiny village in upstate New York in the Adirondack Mountains. This was the second time that the village of Lake Placid had held the Olympics, but this time around it was on a much grander scale. It was in the middle of a real low time in Morale in the US. Unemployment was high, gas shortages were everywhere, the middle of the Cold War was going on, and they had that bout with Iran, and the Hostage taking Crisis. Jimmy Carter was in what would prove to be his last year in the White House, and morale really couldn't have been lower.
But enter the US Men's hockey team...
A bunch of college kids taking on the World's best hockey teams, including nations who were expected to be heavy favourites. The Swedes, The Czechs, The Canadians, and the mighty Red Machine from the Soviet Union who had won every Olympic Gold medal since 1964. They boasted the world's best Goaltender in Vladislav Tretiak, and many hockey legends that simply dominated International Hockey.
The US was not supposed to contend in Hockey, and if they were to get any medal, it would've been a great accomplishment. There wasn't really a single standout star on the team, and the one player who would've been that star, Joe Mullen, left to play pro in the NHL. That left a team of college kids under the helm of fanatical coach Herb Brooks. Brooks himself was the last man cut from the Squaw Valley 1960 Winter Olympics just days before the Olympics started. That was the last time that the USA won Olympic gold, and he was not part of it. How heartbreaking that would've been...
But Brooks conditioned his team for 6 long months before the Olympics and had his team in great shape. They started out slow in every game, but seemed to continue on where other teams lacked the legs and that's when the magic started.
In the first game vs. Sweden, they were down 2-1 when they pulled Goalie Jim Craig for an extra attacker, and Bill Baker scored to tie the game with seconds left in the game, saving their medal hopes. Their next games vs Czechoslovakia was an upset win and they seemed to gain momentum in every win after that. Wins against Norway, Germany, Romania followed and the US found themselves in the medal round with the Soviets, Sweden and Finland.
They drew the Mighty Soviets in the first round game. The Soviets had just embarrassed Team USA at Madison Square Garden just days before the start of the Olympics 10-3 in an exhibition game. The sworn Cold War Rival of the USA was setting up the stage of the biggest upset and greatest moment in sports history.
Today, Feb.22, 2010 is the 30th anniversary of that game. Of course everybody knows the outcome, that they USA came from behind and beat the Soviets 4-3 and went on 2 days later to beat Finland to win the Gold Medal, upsetting the greatest hockey team in history, on home soil at the Olympics.
It was a fantastic moment. And not just for hockey fans. It was a moment unlike others before it. Instead of asking the question "Where were you when Kennedy was shot?" it was a positive question. "Where were you when the Miracle on Ice happened?"
And that moment really did a lot to unite the Americans. It gave everyone around the States something to cheer about. There wasn't a moment that could've made the nation of the USA more proud. And 30 years later, it is still being felt.
This being the 30th year anniversary of the Miracle on Ice, the Village of Lake Placid is starting a fundraising campaign to make the Herb Brooks Arena, the building where the Miracle on Ice happened into a living museum to reflect the event that took place on this day 30 years ago.
If you have some fond memories of that event, and you would like to contribute to the cause of making this event everything that it should be, please feel free to send your tax-deductable donation to:
Lake Placid Winter Olympic Museum
2634 Main St.
Lake Placid, NY 12946
Phone: 800 462 6236 / 518 523 1655