Relive “The Miracle”
LAKE PLACID, N.Y. – The ovation wasn’t quite as deafening as it was 35 years ago. It was riveting, nonetheless, for Dave Christian and his old Olympic buddies, together again to celebrate their Miracle on Ice.
“It feels exactly the same,” Christian said Saturday night as the members of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team returned to the rink they made famous with their triumph over the Soviet Union. “You could feel the electricity in the (locker) room. It’s still there.”
The “Relive the Miracle” reunion at Herb Brooks Arena attracted more than 5,000 fans for a two-hour celebration of one of the most memorable upsets in sports history. Every surviving player from the team made the trip, including Mark Pavelich, who drove from his Oregon home with two dogs. It was the first time the team had all been together since that memorable night.
Missing was Brooks, the Hall of Fame coach who was killed in a car accident in 2003, and rugged defenseman Bob Suter, who died at age 57 in September.
“Herb had a feel for the game during the game,” goalie Jim Craig said. “He would get you off the ice before you could commit a penalty. He was ahead of his time in many ways.”
Mike Eruzione and the surviving members of the 1980 U.S. ice hockey team return on Feb. 21, 2015, to Lake Placid, N.Y., 35 years after the team’s stunning gold medal at the 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympics. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
Festivities included audio, video and still pictures, as well as a discussion of the game with the players. Suter’s jersey was raised to the rafters as a tribute.
“Bobby was a great player and a great person,” said 60-year-old Mike Eruzione, who scored the game-winner against the Soviet Union in the medal round. “He did a lot for hockey. We all realize that at some point we’re going to move on, but nobody thought that Bobby would not be with us. He was a special teammate, a special person.”
Suter had dedicated much of his later life helping kids learn the game as a youth hockey coach back in his hometown of Madison, Wisconsin.
“Everyone felt a big loss,” Mark Johnson said. “Everyone on the team had a role. Bobby was a character in and out of the locker room. He’s dearly missed. His legacy will live on in Wisconsin.”
The U.S. took the lead on Friday, Feb. 22, 1980, against the powerful Soviets on Eruzione’s goal midway through the third period. It was the last goal of the game as Craig stood tall in net.
The Americans finished the 4-3 upset to the sound of broadcaster Al Michaels’ call of, “Do you believe in miracles?” Two days later, the U.S. rallied to beat Finland 4-2 for the gold in a game the Americans had to win just to medal.