Gold medal, Lake Placid 1980 Olympic Winter Games
First Round (Pool Play)
U.S. 2, Sweden 2
U.S. 7, Czechoslovakia 3
U.S. 5, Norway 1
U.S. 7, Romania 2
U.S. 4, West Germany 2
U.S. 4, Soviet Union 3
U.S. 4, Finland 2
With a roster comprised of college players and minor leaguers, the U.S. men’s ice hockey team was not considered much of a contender entering the Lake Placid 1980 Olympic Winter Games. The Americans had been routed, 10-3, by the powerful Soviet Union in an exhibition less than two weeks before the Olympics.
It was the Soviets who came to Lake Placid as favorites, having won four consecutive gold medals and losing just once in Olympic play during that span.
Just getting to the Medal Round was an achievement for the Americans, who needed a last-minute goal by Bill Baker to muster an opening-game 2-2 tie against Sweden. However, following wins over Czechoslovakia, Norway, Romania and West Germany, the Americans advanced to the final four round-robin, with the result against Sweden carrying over.
On a cold evening, the Lake Placid Fieldhouse overflowed with fans and the patriotic chant of “U-S-A” filled the building. Trailing 3-2 entering the third period, the United States pulled even at 3-3 on a power-play goal by Mark Johnson. Then, exactly midway through the period, team captain Mike Eruzione corralled a loose puck in the slot and scored the go-ahead goal. As the final seconds ticked off the clock, broadcaster Al Michaels delivered what would become one of the most famous calls of all time: “Do you believe in miracles? Yes!”
“I don’t think you can put it into words,” Eruzione said. “It was 20 guys pulling for each other, never quitting, 60 minutes of good hockey. I don’t think we kicked their butts. We just won.”
“It’s a human emotion that indescribable.”
Two days later, the Americans rallied from a 2-1 deficit entering the third period to beat Finland, 4-2, to claim the gold medal. In 1999, Sports Illustrated named the Miracle on Ice as the top sports moment of the 20th century, while in 2008 ESPN viewers voted Eruzione’s goal the greatest highlight of all time.