Yesterday marked the thirty-third anniversary of the Miracle on Ice where a group of college students beat the Soviet Union hockey machine in Lake Placid, New York. The team would go on to beat Finland for the coveted gold medal on February 24th, 1980.
This was a feat which has only been accomplished one other time in United States’ hockey history. The US also won gold in 1960 in Squaw Valley, California. A US team has one silver twice, but that was after pros started competing.
The victory over the Soviets was more than a game for many. However, what twenty young men did in a quaint village in upstate New York was prove that yes, Americans can play hockey too.
Prior to that, the sport was dominated at the NHL level by Canadians.
Thirteen members of that team would go on to careers in the NHL.
Five of them would compete in over 500 games. Three would reach the thousand game mark.
Two, Neil Broten and Ken Morrow, would have their names engraved on the Stanley Cup. Morrow would hoist the cup a total of four times and win a gold medal along with his first cup in the same year.
That team would open the door for American players in the NHL and they haven’t looked back since.
While many of today’s hotshots were still in diapers or not even born yet, their story continues to inspire generation after generation of US hockey players.
It is still under discussion as to whether or not the NHL will allow its players to compete in the 2014 Olympic games in Sochi, Russia next February which is what continues to make 1980 such a special event to remember.
Dream teams have been participating in the Olympics for a while which is why the dramatic victory of the Soviets and the gold medal win will never be repeated again.
While Olympic hockey remains a premiere competition, it is professionals playing professionals, just on different teams.
Yes, country pride in on the line, but it is hardly, David versus Goliath.