Miracle on Ice

Do you believe in miracles? YES! Fans did when the U.S. hockey team beat the Russians in 1980.

Story and photos by Danielle O'Connell

celebration at the ice rink
Celebration at the 1980 ice rink

Three seconds before the U.S.A/Soviet game ended in 1980 the commentator of the game, Al Michaels yelled, �Do you believe in miracles? YES!� The U.S. beat the undefeated Soviets, representing another win to add onto the miracle of the 1980 Olympics. This team of young college boys brought a nation together after a year of hardship.  

On February 23, 2005, a tribute to the athletes of the 1980 Olympics called �A Night of Miracles, Memories and Magic� was held at the 1980 ice rink where team U.S.A brought home the gold. The night was dedicated to the hockey team and the other 1980 Olympic athletes.

The ice arena was packed with fans who wanted to show their thanks to the athletes. The stadium was sold out and there was good reason for that. Medal winners from the Alpine skiing, bobsled/luge, Nordic skiing, and 17 of the 20 U.S.A hockey players all came to participate in the celebration. Scott Hamiliton, a renowned ice skater that participated in the Olympics, gave a speech about his memories of the 1980 games. �What a 2 � weeks that was. Being able to carry the flag in the opening ceremonies was a thrill of a lifetime, and an honor that I�ll always hold as the highest ever given to me,� he ended his speech yelling, �I LOOOOVE THIS TOWN!�
ice skaters
Ice skaters performing during the celebration

Part of the night was filled with performances by various ice skaters; some from the 1980 Olympics, as well as other younger skaters who compete on a national level. Jozef Sabovcik did an energetic and upbeat routine to Bruce Springsteen�s �Mary�s Place,� with the crowd clapping to the beat. An emotional moment came when Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner performed together for the first time since their Olympic dreams were smashed when Gardner hurt his leg. After 25 years, they received the standing ovation that they had wanted for so long

The arena really came alive when the show turned to the U.S.A hockey team. The hockey team was unlike any other. They didn�t just win games in the Olympics; they brought a nation together. The team was made up of college players, mostly from Boston and Minnesota. They had experience on the ice, but not as much as the teams they were up against. Herb Brooks, the head coach, pushed the boys physically and mentally to prepare for their competition. The team underwent strenuous conditioning for six months, then headed to the Olympics in Lake Placid to face the toughest teams in the world.

Team Russia was known as the �Red Machine� and went undefeated for 12 consecutive years in the Olympics. The �Miracle on Ice� happened on February 22nd, 1980, when team U.S.A played team Russia. The boys were behind Russia by one point for most of the game until the 3rd period, when a goal by team U.S.A. tied the score at 3-3. Shortly thereafter, captain Mike Eruzione took control of the puck and shot from 25 feet away, scoring the game-winning goal for the U.S.

Governor George Pataki, who came and spoke at the celebration, recalled his moment while watching the game, �I couldn�t watch the 3rd period. I was with my family and some friends and we watched the 1st period and I got a little excited. We watched the 2nd period and got extremely excited. I was driving everybody nuts. So while they sat in front of the television for the 3rd period, I went out and listened to the radio in the car so I could scream and yell because that was one of the greatest sporting events New York, America, and the world has ever seen.�
some of the hockey players from the Olympic games
members from the 1980 Olympic hockey team

After Governor Pataki spoke, the crowd was shown video clips of the boys. The arena was up on their feet whistling and clapping as game clips played. When captain Mike Eruzione walked out in front of the fans in the rink, he received an ovation that shook the entire building. He spoke to the crowd about his memories and experiences during the games stating, �We�ve been named greatest sports moment of the century and greatest ESPN moment, but the greatest moment for all of us was marching in the opening ceremony. When we marched, it started a journey for us that we never would have imagined, 25 years later, would have taken us back here to you.� The crowd gave out another huge cheer and then Eruzione carried on thanking them. �You opened your arms and hearts to us in 1980 and you have absolutely opened them again the last couple of days. Not only to me, and my teammates, but for all the Olympians. So thank you Lake Placid because you have made this moment very very special.� Everyone was up on their feet. The house lights went up and you could see the smiles on everyone�s face and some others crying. The crowd was consumed by the moment and a �U.S.A� chant erupted. Seeing the reaction from the people in the stands after hearing Eruzione speak made it clear why he was the captain of the U.S.A team. He inspired his team in 1980 the same way he inspired the crowd that night.

The final part of the night was dedicated to the man that made the whole miracle happen. The late Herb Brooks, coach of the young hockey team, pushed them to their gold in the Olympics. If it weren�t for him, there wouldn�t have been a celebration 25 years later. Sadly, Herb passed away August 11th, 2003 in a car accident. The 17 players from the team, Herb�s wife, son, daughter, and George Pataki came out in front of the crowd to pay tribute to Brooks. �This miracle couldn�t have happened without a leader who took what he called a bunch of pale college kids and turned them into the team who would beat the dominating Soviets,� George Pataki stated, �It was his vision and commitment that helped lead the way to the miracle on ice. Tonight we honor the memory of that great coach. From tonight on, as we maintain this great arena for generations to come, it will always be known as the 1980 Herb Brooks Arena.� A plaque was drawn with Herb Brooks face on it. Everyone in the rink were up on their feet applauding the memory of the great Herb Brooks.

The night ended with the cheers and yelling from the packed arena. Red, white, and blue balloons fell from the ceiling. All of the people that participated in the celebration came out in front of the crowd. It was a night full of emotion that brought everyone there back to the night of the hockey game. It felt as if we were back in the ice rink on that very night the team brought home the gold. There are no other sporting events that are celebrated in the same way as the 1980 games. These Olympic athletes, especially the hockey team, touched the lives of so many generations and will continue to do so for years to come. From now on, Herb Brooks' plaque will stand outside of the arena for everyone to see, and his memory will live on.

Where were you during the 1980 ice hockey game?

1980 Team Roster

Mike Eruzione
Jim Craig
Mark Johnson
Jack O'Callahan
Rob McClanahan
Mike Ramsey
Buzz Schneider
Bill Baker
Dave Christian
Steve Janaszak
Mark Pavelich
Dave Silk
Eric Strobel
Steve Christoff
Bob Suter
Mark Wells
Neal Broten
John Harrigton
Ken Morrow
Phil Verchota

Head coach- Herb Brooks
Assistant coach- Craig Patrick
Equipment Manager- Bud Kessel
Team physician- Dr. George Nagobads

Manager- Robert Fleming

General Manager- Ralph Jasinski

Trainer- Gary Smith
Goalkeeping coach- Warren Strelow

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