By Sophie Afdhal || Sports Editor
“Tonight, WE are the greatest hockey team in the world. You were born to be hockey players. Every one of you. And you were meant to be here tonight. This is your time. Their time is done. It’s over. I’m sick and tired of hearing about what a great hockey team the Soviets have. Screw ‘em. This is your time. Now go out there and take it.”
Lovers of both sports and movies alike will recognize this as Coach Herb Brooks’ pre-game speech from the movie Miracle. This film is based on the very true story of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team’s triumph in the medal rounds against the Soviet Union.
In 1980, the team defeated the Soviets, who had won gold in 6 out of 7 of the past Olympic games, on February 22 in Lake Placid, NY and the game earned the colloquial nickname of the “Miracle on Ice.” The game was fast-paced and intense from the onsent. Both teams scored twice in the first period. The Soviets scored once in the second period, leaving the U.S. down going into the important third peiod. But the Americans triumphed, scoring twice in the third period to secure their win.
After winning that game, the team went on to defeat Finland, due to the former round robin style of the tournament, in our to secure the Olympic gold medal.
35 years later, the team gathered once again in Lake Placid this week to relive that fateful game. The “Relive the Miracle” reunion attracted more than 5,000 fans and was attended by every living player. They all gathered for a 2 hour celebration and to remember the game that the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) chose as the century’s number one international ice hockey competition. The event consisted of audio, video, and pictures from the game as well as a discussion with the team.
Despite the positive energy, there were two very notable absences. Sadly, both Coach Brook, who died in 2003 in a car accident, and defenseman Bob Suter, who passed away at age 57 in September, left the team feeling incomplete at their gathering.
“Everyone felt a big loss,” said Mark Johnson to ESPN, “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.” With everyone feeling the recent loss, the team raised Suter’s jersey into the rafters in tribute.
One of the more interesting occurrences in the game was the fact that the Soviet’s only scored 3 goals. They had been scoring considerably more and the fact that they held them off must be attributed to the strength of the goalie and the defense, including Suter. The memory of Brooks and Suter, just like the win, will not be quickly forgotten. That seemed to be a theme throughout the day, with many players citing it as the experience that changed their lives. The win came during a time of important sociopolitical strife, with the Cold War fading and President Carter having already announced the boycott of the Moscow summer Olympics. The American hostage crisis with Iran was also on going during this time, causing further stress. The ongoing tension with the Soviet Union and the firmly cemented opinion that the Soviets had the greatest hockey team in the world made this win so important and memorable for the country.
Herb Brooks took a group of amateurs and college students and turned them into a Olympic championship team. The pride in what they accomplished has not faded from the minds of the players.
“I’ve played on a lot of teams, and this is the best team, the closest team I have ever played on,” said Neal Broten, “As a younger guy, I looked up to all these guys. It was a privledge and honor for me to represent our country with these guys and do what we did.”
This medal is and will remain one of the most significant Olympian wins for the U.S. and one the world won’t soon forget.
Senior Sophie Afdhal is the Sports Editor. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.