Jesse Owens, Babe Ruth & the 1980 Olympic Hockey Team

Capital Region and other sports fans from across the land were thrilled when the United States hockey team beat the Soviet Union in the 1980 Olympic Games which were held just up the Northway in Lake Placid.  In sports there have been revered figures like Jesse Owens and Babe Ruth, and institutions like the New York Yankees, but it seemed unlikely that a team of college hockey players would join them.  But the “Miracle On Ice” ranks as the greatest sports achievement of the twentieth century.  It was an achievement that brought together Americans from all walks of life.  Herb Brooks, who led the University of Minnesota to three NCAA titles, was the coach.  He emphasized conditioning and discipline.  Most of his Olympic team members hailed from Massachusetts.  The Americans were underdogs, but they were competitive, and it was thought that a bronze medal was in reach.  The Americans had been manhandled by the Soviets in a pre-season game, 10-3.  At Lake Placid, the U.S. began slowly, but managed to tie Sweden, 2-2.  Then came a 7-3 win over Czechoslovakia, and wins over Norway, Romania, and a comeback win over Germany.  The Soviets were undefeated.  Against the USA they were ahead 2-1 at the end of the first period and 3-2 at the end of the second period.  The Americans pulled even in the third period, then went ahead 4-3 on a 25-foot shot by Mike Eruzione.  Ten minutes were left in the contest, but the U.S. held on to win.  The building erupted, and goalie Jim Craig was mobbed by teammates for his sterling performance in the goal.  In the final game, the USA, behind early, came back to beat Finland for the gold medal.

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