Miracle on Ice: U.S. Beats the Soviets – HISTORY

    In one of the most dramatic upsets in Olympic history, on February 22, 1980, the underdog U.S. The all-varsity hockey team defeats the four-time gold-medal defending Soviet team at the 13th Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York. the Soviet squad, previously considered the best in the world, fell to the youthful American team 4-3 before a frenzied crowd of 10,000. Two days later, the Americans defeated Finland 4-2 to win hockey gold.

    The Soviet team had captured the previous four Olympic hockey golds, since 1964, and had not lost an Olympic hockey game since 1968. Three days before the Lake Placid games began, the Soviets defeated the USA. uu. team 10-3 in an exhibition game at madison square garden in new york city. The Americans seemed rudimentary, but few blamed them for it: their average age, after all, was only 22, and their team captain, Mike Eruzione, was recruited from the obscurity of the International League’s Toledo Blades.

    Reading: 1980 miracle on ice

    few had high hopes for the seventh-seeded u.s. The team entered the Olympic tournament, but the team soon silenced their detractors, making it through the first round of play undefeated, with four wins and one draw, thus advancing to the four-team medal round. the soviets, however, were seeded no. 1 and unsurprisingly went undefeated, with five wins in the first round.

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    Friday afternoon, February 22, American fans and the Soviet Dream Team met before a sold-out crowd at Lake Placid. The Soviets broke through first, with their new young star, Valery Krotov, deflecting a shot out of the reach of American goalkeeper Jim Craig in the first half. Midway through the period, Buzz Schneider, the only American to have been a former Olympian, responded to the Soviet goal with a high shot over the shoulder from Vladislav Tretiak, the Soviet goalkeeper.

    The relentless Soviet attack continued as the period progressed, with Sergei Makarov giving his team a 2-1 lead. With just seconds remaining in the first period, American Dave Christian fired the puck across the ice in desperation. Mark Johnson picked it up and sent it into the Soviet goal with one second remaining. after a brief Soviet protest, the goal was considered valid and the match was tied.

    In the second half, the irritated Soviets brought out a new goalkeeper, vladimir myshkin, and stepped up the attack. The Soviets dominated play in the second period, outscoring the United States 12-2 and taking a 3-2 lead on a goal from Alesandr Maltsev just two minutes into the period. Were it not for several noteworthy saves from Jim Craig, the Soviet lead would surely have been greater than 3-2 as the third and final 20-minute period began.

    nearly nine minutes into the period, johnson converted a soviet penalty and knocked down a deflected shot from david silk to tie the game again at 3-3. About a minute and a half later, Mike Eruzione, whose last name means “eruption” in Italian, picked up a loose puck in the Soviet zone and hit it past Myshkin with a 25-foot wrist throw. For the first time in the game, the Americans took the lead and the crowd erupted in celebration.


    There were still 10 minutes left in the game, but the Americans held on, with Craig making a few more fabulous saves. With five seconds remaining, the Americans finally managed to get the puck out of their zone, and the crowd began counting down the final seconds. when the final buzzer sounded, players, coaches and team officials poured onto the ice in a raucous celebration. the Soviet players, as amazed as everyone else, waited patiently to shake hands with their opponents.

    The so-called miracle on ice was more than an Olympic upset; For many Americans, it was as significant an ideological victory in the Cold War as the Berlin Airlift or the Apollo moon landing. The setback came at a propitious time: President Jimmy Carter had just announced that the United States would boycott the 1980 Summer Games in Moscow due to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and the Americans, faced with a major recession and the crisis of The hostages in Iran were in dire need of something to celebrate. After the game, President Carter called the players to congratulate them, and millions of Americans spent Friday night reveling in “our guys” triumphing over the Russian pros.

    like the us team showed in their victory over finland two days later, they were no ordinary amateur team. Three-quarters of the team were top college players on their way to the National Hockey League (NHL), and Coach Herb Brooks had coached the team long and in a way that would have made even the most authoritarian Soviet coach proud. The 1980 United States hockey team was probably the best-conditioned American Olympic hockey team of all time, the result of countless hours performing skating drills in preparation for Lake Placid. in his game, the us the players adopted passing techniques developed by the Soviets for the larger international hockey rinks, while retaining the rough-and-tumble control style that was known to catch the Soviets off guard. It was these factors, combined with an exceptional afternoon of play from Craig, Johnson, Eruzione and others, that resulted in the miracle at Lake Placid.

    This unlikely victory was later commemorated in a 2004 movie, Miracle, starring Kurt Russell.

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