This Day In History: 02/22/1980 - Hockey Miracle on Ice

This Day In History: 02/22/1980 - Hockey Miracle on Ice

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The Miracle on Ice Olympic Winter hockey team coached by Herb Brooks beat the Soviet Union, and the Purple Heart military decoration was reinstituted because of terrorism in This Day in History video. The date is February 22nd. Also, on this date Spain agreed to give Florida to the U.S.


The IIHF ceased running a championship in Olympic years. Nations that did not participate in the Lake Placid Olympics were invited to compete in the inaugural Thayer Tutt Trophy in Ljubljana, Yugoslavia.

Going into the games, the teams were ranked and divided into two groups. Teams were ranked based on performance during the 1979 World Ice Hockey Championships. Included were the eight teams in the 1979 top Championship Division (Pool "A") as well as the top four teams in the 1979, second-tier, "B" Pool tournament. While Poland finished 8th place in Pool A, the Netherlands, winners of Pool B, were ranked 8th while Poland was ranked 9th going into the Olympics. The total ranking was: Soviet Union (1), Czechoslovakia (2), Sweden (3), Canada (4), Finland (5), West Germany (6), United States (7), Netherlands (8), Poland (9), Romania (10), Norway (11), Japan (12). East Germany was originally ranked tenth but declined to participate, with Japan filling their spot.

Today in History, February 22, 1980: U.S. defeated Russia in ‘Miracle on Ice’ Olympic hockey game

The U.S. hockey team pounces on goalie Jim Craig after a 4-3 victory against the Soviet Union, known as "the Miracle on Ice," in the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid, New York. (Photo: AP Photo)

Today is Feb. 22. On this date in:

English colonists in the Massachusetts Bay Colony first sampled popcorn brought to them by a Native American named Quadequina for their Thanksgiving celebration.

(New Style date) The first president of the United States, George Washington, was born in Westmoreland County in the Virginia Colony.

Enquirer file Pike's Opera House, built in 1859, was a world-famous and popular theater during the Civil War until it was destroyed in a fire caused by a gas leak on March 22, 1866. The fire also destroyed the Enquirer offices next door. (Photo: Enquirer file)

Jefferson Davis, already the provisional president of the Confederacy, was inaugurated for a six-year term following his election in November 1861.

The Great White Fleet, a naval task force sent on a round-the-world voyage by President Theodore Roosevelt, returned after more than a year at sea.

It became illegal for airplanes to fly over the White House.

Xavier called the Cincinnati Gardens home from 1983-84 until 2000. The Musketeers now play at Cintas Center, their on-campus arena. (Photo: The Enquirer/Cara Owsley)

The inaugural Daytona 500 race was held although Johnny Beauchamp was initially declared the winner, the victory was later awarded to Lee Petty.

More than 25,000 U.S. and South Vietnamese troops launched Operation Junction City, aimed at smashing a Vietcong stronghold near the Cambodian border. (Although the communists were driven out, they later returned.)

Pakistan officially recognized Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan).

The “Miracle on Ice” took place in Lake Placid, New York, as the United States Olympic hockey team upset the Soviets, 4-3. (The U.S. team went on to win the gold medal.)

David Vetter, a 12-year-old Texas boy who’d spent most of his life in a plastic bubble because he had no immunity to disease, died 15 days after being removed from the bubble for a bone-marrow transplant.

Pop artist Andy Warhol died at a New York City hospital at age 58.

A sheep called Dolly, the world's first clone of an adult mammal. (Photo: AP Photo)

Scottish scientists said they had succeeded in cloning an adult mammal, producing a lamb named “Dolly.” (Dolly, however, was later put down after a short life marred by premature aging and disease.)

At the Sochi Olympics, Marit Bjoergen became the most decorated female Winter Olympian in history, winning a sixth career gold medal by leading a Norwegian sweep in the 30-kilometer cross-country race.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY: U.S. hockey team beats the Soviets in the “Miracle on Ice”

In one of the most dramatic upsets in Olympic history, the underdog U.S. hockey team, made up of college players, defeats the four-time defending gold-medal winning Soviet team at the XIII Olympic Winter Games in Lake Placid, New York. The Soviet squad, previously regarded as the finest in the world, fell to the youthful American team 4-3 before a frenzied crowd of 10,000 spectators. Two days later, the Americans defeated Finland 4-2 to clinch the hockey gold.

The Soviet team had captured the previous four Olympic hockey golds, going back to 1964, and had not lost an Olympic hockey game since 1968. Three days before the Lake Placid Games began, the Soviets routed the U.S. team 10-3 in an exhibition game at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The Americans looked scrappy, but few blamed them for it—their average age, after all, was only 22, and their team captain, Mike Eruzione, was recruited from the obscurity of the Toledo Blades of the International League.

Few had high hopes for the seventh-seeded U.S. team entering the Olympic tournament, but the team soon silenced its detractors, making it through the opening round of play undefeated, with four victories and one tie, thus advancing to the four-team medal round. The Soviets, however, were seeded No. 1 and as expected went undefeated, with five victories in the first round.

On Friday afternoon, February 22, the American amateurs and the Soviet dream team met before a sold-out crowd at Lake Placid. The Soviets broke through first, with their new young star, Valery Krotov, deflecting a slap shot beyond American goalie Jim Craig’s reach in the first period. Midway through the period, Buzz Schneider, the only American who had previously been an Olympian, answered the Soviet goal with a high shot over the shoulder of Vladislav Tretiak, the Soviet goalie.

The relentless Soviet attack continued as the period progressed, with Sergei Makarov giving his team a 2-1 lead. With just a few seconds left in the first period, American Dave Christian shot the puck down the ice in desperation. Mark Johnson picked it up and sent it into the Soviet goal with one second remaining. After a brief Soviet protest, the goal was deemed good, and the game was tied.

In the second period, the irritated Soviets came out with a new goalie, Vladimir Myshkin, and turned up the attack. The Soviets dominated play in the second period, outshooting the United States 12-2, and taking a 3-2 lead with a goal by Alesandr Maltsev just over two minutes into the period. If not for several remarkable saves by Jim Craig, the Soviet lead would surely have been higher than 3-2 as the third and final 20-minute period began.

Nearly nine minutes into the period, Johnson took advantage of a Soviet penalty and knocked home a wild shot by David Silk to tie the contest again at 3-3. About a minute and a half later, Mike Eruzione, whose last name means “eruption” in Italian, picked up a loose puck in the Soviet zone and slammed it past Myshkin with a 25-foot wrist shot. For the first time in the game, the Americans had the lead, and the crowd erupted in celebration.

There were still 10 minutes of play to go, but the Americans held on, with Craig making a few more fabulous saves. With five seconds remaining, the Americans finally managed to get the puck out of their zone, and the crowd began counting down the final seconds. When the final horn sounded, the players, coaches, and team officials poured onto the ice in raucous celebration. The Soviet players, as awestruck as everyone else, waited patiently to shake their opponents’ hands.

The so-called Miracle on Ice was more than just an Olympic upset to many Americans, it was an ideological victory in the Cold War as meaningful as the Berlin Airlift or the Apollo moon landing. The upset came at an auspicious time: President Jimmy Carter had just announced that the United States was going to boycott the 1980 Summer Games in Moscow because of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and Americans, faced with a major recession and the Iran hostage crisis, were in dire need of something to celebrate. After the game, President Carter called the players to congratulate them, and millions of Americans spent that Friday night in revelry over the triumph of “our boys” over the Russian pros.

As the U.S. team demonstrated in their victory over Finland two days later, they weren’t your run-of-the-mill amateur squad. Three-quarters of the squad were top college players who were on their way to the National Hockey League (NHL), and coach Herb Brooks had trained the team long and hard in a manner that would have made the most authoritative Soviet coach proud. The 1980 U.S. hockey team was probably the best-conditioned American Olympic hockey team of all time—the result of countless hours running skating exercises in preparation for Lake Placid. In their play, the U.S. players adopted passing techniques developed by the Soviets for the larger international hockey rinks, while preserving the rough checking style that was known to throw the Soviets off-guard. It was these factors, combined with an exceptional afternoon of play by Craig, Johnson, Eruzione, and others, that resulted in the miracle at Lake Placid.

This improbable victory was later memorialized in a 2004 film, Miracle, starring Kurt Russell.

On This Day, Feb. 22: The Miracle on Ice

Heading into the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y., the Soviet hockey team was heavily favored to win its fifth straight Olympic gold medal. Little was expected of the U.S. team, especially after losing 10-3 to the Soviets in an exhibition game days before the Olympics.

As expected, the USSR cruised undefeated through its first five games to reach the four-team medal round. The U.S. shocked many experts in their opening games, tying Sweden and defeating Czechoslovakia. After three wins against lesser competition, they advanced to the medal round, where they faced the Soviets first.

The U.S. hung with the Soviets in the first period and trailed 2-1 when a mistake by Hall-of-Fame goaltender Vladislav Tretiak helped turn the game. In the final seconds of the period, Tretiak gave up a long rebound on a shot from center ice and American Mark Johnson put it home to tie the game with one second left.

Soviet coach Viktor Tikhonov pulled Tretiak, a decision he would call his biggest mistake ever.

The USSR scored the only goal of the second period, but Johnson tied the game in the third. Then, halfway through the period, U.S. captain Mike Eruzione fired a snap shot passed Soviets’ backup goalie Vladimir Myshkin to give the U.S. a 4-3 lead.

The Soviets tried furiously to tie the game, but U.S. goaltender Jim Craig helped preserve the lead. With five seconds left, as the U.S. cleared the puck out of its zone to seal the victory, announcer Al Michaels exclaimed, “Do you believe in miracles? Yes!”

American players mobbed around Craig in celebration as the Soviets stood stunned at their blue line. The Lake Placid crowd waved large American flags and chanted “USA! USA!”

“It was an Olympian moment,” wrote E.M. Smith in Sports Illustrated. “The kind the creators of the Games must have had in mind, one that said: ‘Here is something that is bigger than any of you.’”

The Americans still needed to beat Finland two day later to win gold a loss would have given the Soviets the gold and the U.S. bronze. Though they trailed 2-1 heading into the third, the U.S. scored three unanswered goals to win the gold.

Background: The U.S. and Soviet teams

The Soviets were the dominant team of international hockey, winning four straight Olympic golds and frequently defeating teams of professionals in exhibition games.

“They practiced 11 months of the year and devoted themselves exclusively to hockey,” describes the International Ice Hockey Federation. “They were in flawless physical condition. They practiced as five-man units to ensure everyone on ice knew where every teammate was at all times.”

The Americans were primarily amateur collegians, unknown even to many hockey fans.

Coach Herb Brooks, a two-time Olympian who was the last cut on the 1960 gold medal winning U.S. team, was a “driven perfectionist” who pushed the young team hard during six months of preparation. Many of the players grew to hate Brooks, but they respected him and were highly motivated by him.

Effect on American society

The “Miracle on Ice,” became a symbol of American resolve in an era of apathy and growing U.S.-Soviet tension.

Russia had invaded Afghanistan in December 1979. Americans were facing the Iranian hostage crisis, an energy crunch, inflation, and high unemployment. Public disillusionment lingered over events of the 1970s like the bitter end of the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal.

“That game may have been the moment when Americans started feeling pride again,” Barry Rosen, one of the captives from the Iranian hostage crisis, told The New York Times. "People were looking for something to hold on to. Things were so bad for so long.”

The game’s place in history

The "Miracle on Ice" is considered by many to be the greatest moment in American sports history. Sports Illustrated named the entire team its Sportsmen of the Year for 1980, the first time a team had received that honor.

“At a time when international tensions and domestic frustrations had dampened traditional American optimism, the underdog U.S. Olympic hockey team gave the entire nation a lift,” wrote E.M. Smith. “Those youngsters did so by means of the old-fashioned American work ethic, which some people feared was disappearing from the land.”

Kevin Allen, author of USA Hockey: A Celebration of a Great Tradition writes, “No other Olympic performance has touched America the way that hockey team did, not even Jesse Owens's brilliant runs in front of Adolf Hitler in Berlin in 1936.

“Thanks to the advent of television, Eruzione's goal in 1980 triggered a spontaneous national celebration of amazing proportion,” Allen went on to say. “People wept, strangers hugged each other, and groups around the country broke into stirring renditions of God Bless America and The Star-Spangled Banner.”

1980 Miracle on Ice: Greatest Moment in Sports History Will Never Get Old

Today marks the 31st anniversary of the Miracle on Ice, the fairytale story of the very amateur 1980 United States hockey team and their impossible defeat of the not-so-amateur powerhouse Soviet Union.

A story that every hockey fan, every American, knows by heart.

The story of the United States Olympic Hockey team has translated into feature films, documentaries and books. As the date nears, we are reminded of the events, especially if it falls during the Winter Olympics. Heroes of the team often make appearances at NHL events and, as hockey fans, there isn't a long period of time that passes without some mention of the miracle in the NHL world.

Yet no matter how many times the story is mentioned casually in hockey talk, no matter how many times they show the clips of those final 10 seconds of the game and no matter how many times the words "underdog" or "adversity" are mentioned to the point of overuse, it will never get old.

The miracle may have happened over three decades ago, but it continues to ring loudly in the hearts of Americans as if the initial celebration was still carrying on in the streets of Lake Placid that were bursting with national pride.

Sports have a uniting factor on countries around the world and the United States is no different. A look into our history and you will find plenty of moments where Americans stood together to chant "U-S-A, U-S-A!" to those chosen to represent our country. These moments include Landon Donovan's lone goal against Algeria in the 2010 World Cup, the moment Michael Phelps won a record eight gold medals in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and Lance Armstrong's miraculous defeat of cancer and his comeback to win seven consecutive Tour de France's.

Amidst those times of pure elation and celebration, we realize some moments are far greater than ourselves and will carry so much more meaning than what we may simply see with our eyes.

The United States hockey team's defeat of the Soviet Union was just that. It wasn't just a hockey game.

The Cold War had wrapped its chains around both stagnant countries with concerned citizens of both countries waiting to see when one side would make the first move.

In the meantime, the economy was sputtering along. Interest rates were through the roof and gas prices steadily increased, as did the lines in gas stations.

Morale was at an all-time low and Americans, divided because of the turmoil inside and outside of the border, needed something to bring them back together.

This is where the United States hockey team came into play—a group of talented yet average players attempting to do the impossible.

They were America's answer to the frustrating events of the times.

It's easy to say the miracle that blossomed from their glorious moment had to do with the group of young amateurs beating a team of professionals on the greatest of stages. The real miracle, though, was the newfound hope generated by the moment, that feeling that something good finally happened to a country waiting for something to pull them out of the darkness.

The fact that the victory was against the Soviet Union was the cherry on top. Shakespeare couldn't have scripted the moment better.

What's more perfect is that there will never be a moment like it again.

America isn't some kind of hockey superpower (yet), so to make that claim is certainly a big deal. Surely most would assume that the greatest hockey moment would belong to Canada or Russia, countries that have consistently remained at the top of the totem pole in terms of anything related to hockey.

There have been times where I noticed Canadians joking about how the 1980 win is all the USA has and will have because Canada will wipe the kitchen floor against future American teams. Call it a cop out, call it an excuse, but whether those words ring true doesn't matter to me because there is nothing that can take away from that moment, regardless of an abundance, or lack thereof, of future success.

In last year's Winter Olympics, not much was made of the United States hockey team put together by Brian Burke despite the 100-percent participation of NHL players. The ideal match up was Canada vs. Russia.

However, the Americans went through the round-robin tournament quietly going undefeated and slamming the door shut on the Canadians to seal the first seed.

The stunning win that silenced all of Canada ironically took place the evening before the 30th anniversary of the Miracle on Ice. The connections between the two were immediately made.

Ultimately, the connections were forced and very weak because the Americans, while underdogs, were also professional athletes just like the Canadians.

In the end, Canada had the last laugh, beating the United States 3-2 when it counted: in overtime during the gold-medal game. But despite the outrageous celebration that went on for weeks after Crosby's game-winning escaped goalie Ryan Miller's pads, there was proof and a little faith that America could be up there with the best in hockey.

And it started with the 1980 team, or even the often-forgotten 1960 team.

Nowadays, we can still draw from the events of the United States/Soviet game and they would be applicable to sports and life today.

For example, Soviet coach Viktor Tikhonov's decision to not pull Vladimir Myshkin in the final minute of the game could have been a huge difference-maker. Who knows what could have happened with the help of the extra man.

Or American coach Herb Brooks' decision to send out Mark Johnson who scored a huge tying goal in the final seconds of the first period.

Some things are just meant to go our way in the strangest ways, be it a metal lapse or impulsive decision.

We can also look at the work ethic of the American team from the start of their training in June of 1979 to the Olympic Games—a lengthy and grueling process that became the backbone of the team's success in the tournament.

Clearly, hard work while maintaining a constant eye on a goal is the surest way to success.

Following the 1980 Olympic Games, Sports Illustrated released a cover honoring the United States victory with a snapshot of the post-Soviet game celebration. No supplementary description was added to the cover, mainly because it wasn't necessary.

For those of us who weren't alive to experience the moment, words can only explain so much.

For those of us who were alive, no words are possible.

The 1980 Miracle on Ice is a moment that lives on in the hearts of Americans and hockey fans worldwide, more often than not as the greatest moment in sports history.

But more resonant than the final score on the scoreboard was what the miracle presented to the United States not only immediately after the game, but in the many years that followed: the importance in believing that nothing is impossible and that working hard can take you places no raw skill can.

On this day, we remember what it felt like to stare impossible in the eye and not be the first to look away. We remember that was possible because of a childlike belief among a group of young hockey players and their aggressive but supportive coach.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY: USA Hockey ‘Miracle on Ice’ Stuns Globe 41 Years Ago with Win Over Soviet Union

February 22, 1980

ABOVE VIDEO: In one of the greatest upsets in Olympic history, the United States’ Olympic Hockey Team defeated the Soviet Union by a final score of 4-3. See full game replay

With the odds stacked against them but a raucous home crowd cheering them on, the United States prevailed against the most respected hockey team in the world.

Two days later, USA ultimately prevailed over Finland to win the gold medal in the 1980 Winter Olympics.

To this day, the final minute is considered not only one of the most patriotic moments in the nation’s history, but a symbolic moment in the Cold War which would continue through the end of the 1980’s.

Image courtesy of

Today in Hockey History

Team USA Makes Miracle on Ice

1980: The United States men’s hockey team stuns the world with a 4-3 win over the vaunted Soviet Union in the medal round at Lake Placid, N.Y. Few gave the Americans any chance of winning due to their age and inexperience. The Soviets had beaten the U.S., 10-3, in a pre-Olympic exhibition game.

Mark Johnson scored twice and Mike Eruzione got the game-winner with 10 minutes left. Jim Craig stood tall in goal to give the U.S. the improbable win. The Americans would finish the job and win gold by beating Finland two days later.

Other Notable Events

1928: Duke Keats of the Chicago Blackhawks scores 15:50 into the second period to end Ottawa Senators goalie Alec Connell‘s shutout streak. Connell goes 460:49 without allowing a goal and Ottawa wins 3-2 as he misses out on his seventh straight shutout.

1964: The Toronto Maple Leafs send Arnie Brown and Rod Seiling, Bill Collins , Dick Duff and Bob Nevin to the New York Rangers for Andy Bathgate and Don McKenney . Bathgate and McKenney power the Leafs to a Cup while Duff and Neff lead a Rangers rebirth.

1981: Brothers Peter Stastny and Anton Stastny each get eight points in the Quebec Nordiques 11-7 win over the Washington Capitals. Peter gets four goals and four assists while Anton tallies three goals and five assists.

1983: Los Angeles Kings forward Marcel Dionne becomes the league’s first nine-time 40-goal scorer. He scores in a 5-3 victory over the Boston Bruins.

1984: Edmonton Oilers centre Wayne Gretzky gets his 10th hat trick of the season. He ties his own record from 1981-82 with four goals in a 9-2 rout of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

1998: Dominik Hasek made 20 saves and Petr Svoboda scored the only goal as the Czech Republic beat Russia, 1-0, in the Olympic gold medal game. It’s the first Olympic tournament to have NHL players in history.

2018: The United States women’s hockey team beats Canada, 3-2, in a shootout. Twin sisters Monique and Jocelyn Lamoureux helped the Americans by getting the tying goal and shootout winner, respectively. It’s the first Olympic gold for the United States in 20 years.

This Day in History: Underdog US Hockey Team Stages Historic Olympic Upset Over Soviets

The year was 1980. The event was the winter Olympic Games in Lake Placid, New York.

Thirty-seven years ago today, an inexperienced American hockey team staged one of the biggest Olympic upsets in history, defeating the Soviet team, regarded as the finest in the world. The Soviets had won four consecutive Olympic gold medals between 1964 and 1976.

With less than five seconds left on the clock, an American television commentator asked, “Do you believe in miracles?”

He didn’t wait for an answer, yelling out a triumphant “YES!” as the American squad scored its final goal, clinching the game at 4-3. Many in the crowd of 10,000 spectators erupted in joyous celebration.

Two days later, the Americans defeated Finland 4-2 to win Olympic gold.

Few had any hopes for seventh-seeded U.S. Olympic hockey squad, but the team soon silenced its detractors, making it through the opening-round of play undefeated, with four victories and one tie to advance to the four-team medal round. The Soviets, however, were seeded No. 1, easily capturing five victories in the first round.

After stunning their Soviet competitors and beating the Fins, the 1980 U.S. hockey team no longer could be seen as a collection of inexperienced underdogs. In fact, the team was probably the best-conditioned American Olympic hockey team of all time — the result of countless hours of running and skating exercises in preparation for Lake Placid.

The so-called “Miracle on Ice” was more than just an Olympic upset to many Americans, it was an ideological victory in the Cold War as meaningful as the Berlin Airlift or the Apollo moon landing.

The upset came at an auspicious time.

President Jimmy Carter had just announced the United States was going to boycott the 1980 Summer Games in Moscow because of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and Americans, faced with a major recession and the Iran hostage crisis, were in dire need of something to celebrate.

The historic victory was later made into a film in 2004, called Miracle, starring Kurt Russell as coach Herb Brooks.

This Day In History: 02/22/1980 - Hockey Miracle on Ice - HISTORY

1856 The Republican Party holds it's first national meeting

1876 Johns Hopkins University is founded

1959 Lee Petty wins the first Daytona 500.

1980 The "Miracle on Ice" occurs when the US defeats Russia in hockey.

Famous Birthdays:

1732 George Washington (1st US President)

1820 Frederic Chopin (Classic Composer)

1950 Julius Erving (Basketball Player)

1962 Steve Irwin (Crocodile Hunter)

1975 Drew Barrymore (Actress)

Today in History Archive:

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Watch the video: Miracle the Movie Outtakes and Bloopers


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