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On This Day

#OTD in 1980

“Do You Believe In Miracles?”

The U.S. Olympic hockey team pulled off one of the greatest upsets in sports history, defeating the Soviet Union, 4-3.

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“Risk something or forever sit with your dreams.”

USA Hockey coach Herb Brooks. The American team, a 7th seed long shot comprised of college players, faced the Soviets, a 4-time winning, gold-medal defending group of professional athletes at the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, NY.
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Setting the Stage

  • Expectations were low. Days earlier, U.S.S.R beat the U.S. 10-3 in a non-Olympic game.
  • Despite the rout, tickets to the sold out event were going for 4-5 times the $67.20 printed price.
  • U.S. viewers at home didn’t get to watch it live. It was shown on tape delay because the U.S.S.R refused to air the prime-time matchup at 4AM Moscow time.
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U.S. vs. U.S.S.R.

  • Americans came out fast, but the Soviets stepped up their attack.
  • Remarkable saves by U.S. goalie Jim Craig kept the score low. A goal by Mike Eruzione gave the Americans the first lead of the game & they held on to win it all.
  • Players, coaches & team officials rushed the ice to hug & celebrate while the astonished Soviets waited patiently to shake hands.
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Gold Medal Champions

However, the win – while miraculous – still did not secure the Americans a gold medal.

That would come two days later with a victory over Finland – giving Team U.S.A. its first gold medal win in 20 years and its second in the history of the Winter Games.

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The Olympic achievement made U.S. hockey "America's team" with a White House visit & players on magazines and Wheaties boxes. Sports Illustrated says the win over the Soviets is #1 sports moment of the 20th century. But to many, it was also a Cold War ideological victory.

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