Pop’s Power Play: Big moments in Olympic hockey

Chris Popovich ‘14


During the Winter Olympic Games, there is always pressure on the American athletes who will participate.
The USA Men’s Hockey Team comes into these 2014 games having lost to Canada in OT of the gold medal game in Vancouver in 2010, and the Americans are feeling the pressure.
The “Miracle on Ice” for the Americans took place 34 years ago. Team USA pulled off one of the biggest upsets in sports history, knocking off the Red Army of the Soviet Union en route to a gold medal in Lake Placid, New York.
The team was led by Coach Herb Brooks. Brooks was born August 5, 1937, in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Brooks played college hockey for four years at the University of Minnesota. His biggest achievement as a player was making the USA Olympic team in 1960. Brooks was cut by the team just one week before the start of the games, Brooks was even in the team picture, a few weeks later Brooks watched from home, as they won the gold medal for America. Herb Brooks was determined to get a gold medal for his country.
After Brooks’ playing career was over, he took a coaching job with the University of Minnesota where he would lead his team to three NCAA National Championships. Brooks’ hard work eventually paid off when he was offered the head coaching job for the 1980 USA Men’s Hockey Team. He accepted the offer.
Back in the 1980s, Olympic teams were not able to use pro players. Brooks and his staff would have to pick a team from college students and amateur players to represent America. According to usahockey.com, Brooks took a lot of criticism from the media because of the team he selected. Brooks picked goaltender Jim Craig to man the net for the Americans. Craig had played for Brooks in college at Boston University, so they were comfortable with each other.
With the team selected, Brooks led the Americans to Lake Placid, New York, for the 1980 Olympic Winter Games. The Americans surprised the hockey world by tying Sweden in the first game of the tournament. They followed up with a huge win over Czechoslovakia. The team would win a couple more games to advance to the semifinals where the Soviets awaited them.
The game was tied 3-3 in the third until Captain Mike Eruzione scored the game-winning goal in the upset, “Miracle on Ice.”
After one of the biggest wins in sports history, the U.S. still had to beat Finland in the finals. The Americans were down in the game until something sparked a come back and the Americans would come back and will gold. Brooks would finally get his gold medal and achieve his lifelong goal of beating the Soviet Union. The Americans have a tough road to the gold medal in 2014. Sochi is the perfect place for Team USA to relive the glory of the 1980 USA Men’s Hockey Team.