Saturday, February 22, 2014

FEBRUARY 22 = "Miracle on Ice!!"

READERS : Early on the morning of Feb. 15, I received the following request: "Brian, please give us a history lesson in US vs Russia hockey?"  Well at that late moment it was impossible for me to get together the type of posting that I would normally do.  BUT... I was able to put together a posting form one of my most reliable on-line sources for background on any subject, and that would be "Wikipedia"!!  But that request came just a few days before the actual Anniversary of the celebrated "Miracle on Ice" which happens to be THIS very day, February 22!! So what follows is entirely from "Wikipedia"... their presentation of "Miracle on Ice".... and has been moved from it's original posting day (Feb. 15) to today in order to make it in keeping with the the rest of this  Blog which is afterall "Today in History" !!
The actual article (which will shortly be replaced by one of my  own authorship)  can be accessed at:  if you want all off the references and sources that they always list with their articles.  So here it is directly from "Wikipedia":

The "Miracle on Ice" is the name in American popular culture for a medal-round men'sice hockey game during the 1980 Winter Olympics at Lake Placid, New York, on Friday, February 22. The United States national team, made up of amateur and colle- giate players and led by coach Herb Brooks, defeated the Soviet Union national team, which had won the gold medal in six of the seven previous Olympic games.
Team USA went on to win the gold medal by winning its last match over Finland. The Soviet Union took the silver medal by beating Sweden in its final game. In 1999,Sports Illustrated named the "Miracle on Ice" the Top Sports Moment of the 20th Century.[1] As part of its 100th anniversary celebrations in 2008, the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) chose the "Miracle on Ice" as the century's number-one international ice hockey story.[2]

The Soviet and American teams[edit]

The Soviet Union entered the Lake Placid games as the heavy favorite, having won the previous four ice hockey gold medals dating back to the1964 games. In the four Olympics following their 1960 upset by Team USA at Squaw Valley, Soviet teams had gone 27–1–1 (wins-losses-ties) and outscored the opposition 175–44.[3] In head-to-head match-ups against the United States, the cumulative score over that period was 28–7.[4] The Soviet players, some of whom were active-duty military,[5] played in a well-developed league with world class training facilities. They were led by legendary players in world ice hockey, such as Boris Mikhailov (a top line right winger and team captain), Vladislav Tretiak (the consensus best goaltender in the world at the time), the speedy and skilled Valeri Kharlamov, as well as talented, young, and dynamic players such as defenseman Viacheslav Fetisov and forwards Vladimir Krutov and Sergei Makarov. From that team, Tretiak, Kharlamov, and Fetisov would eventually be enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
U.S. head coach Herb Brooks conducted tryouts in Colorado Springs in the summer of 1979. Of the 20 players who eventually made the final Olympic roster, Buzz Schneider was the only one returning from the 1976 Olympic team.[6] Nine players had played under Brooks at theUniversity of Minnesota, which included Rob McClanahanMike Ramsey, and Phil Verchota; while four more were from Boston UniversityDave SilkJack O'Callahan, goalie Jim Craig, and team captain Mike Eruzione.[7] Boston and Minnesota were perennial rivals in College Hockey and the hostility carried over from some of the players on the Olympic team for the first few months. The average age of the U.S. team was 21 years old, making it the youngest team in U.S. team history to play in the Olympics and would be the youngest team in the Olympic tournament. Assistant coach Craig Patrick had played with Brooks on the 1967 U.S. national team.[8]
The Soviet and American teams were natural rivals due to the decades-old Cold War. In addition, President Jimmy Carter was at the time considering a U.S. boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics, to be held in Moscow, in protest of the December 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. On February 9, the same day that the American and Soviet teams met in an exhibition game in New York City, U.S. Secretary of State Cyrus Vance denounced the impending Moscow games at a meeting of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).[9] President Carter eventually decided in favor of the boycott.

Olympic group play[edit]

In Olympic group play, the Americans surprised many observers with their physical, cohesive play. In their first game against favored Sweden, Team USA earned a dramatic 2–2 draw by scoring with 27 seconds left after pulling goalie Jim Craig for an extra attacker. Then came a stunning 7–3 victory over Czechoslovakia, who were a favorite for the silver medal. With its two toughest games in the group phase out of the way, the U.S. team reeled off three more wins, beating Norway 5–1, Romania 7–2, and West Germany 4–2 to go 4–0–1 and advance to the medal round from its group, along with Sweden.
In the other group, the Soviets stormed through their opposition undefeated, often by grossly lopsided scores. They defeated Japan 16–0, theNetherlands 17–4, Poland 8–1, Finland 4–2, and Canada 6–4 to easily qualify for the next round, although both the Finns and the Canadians gave the Soviets tough games for two periods. In the end, the Soviet Union and Finland advanced from their group.[15]

Preparing for the medal round[edit]

The U.S. and Soviet teams prepared for the medal round in different ways. Soviet coach Viktor Tikhonov rested most of his best players, preferring to let them study plays rather than actually skate. U.S. coach Herb Brooks, however, continued with his tough, confrontational style, skating hard practices and berating his players for perceived weaknesses and to build stamina. Brooks' goal was to have his team be able to keep up with the Soviets through all three periods.[citation needed]
The day before the match, columnist Dave Anderson wrote in the New York Times, "Unless the ice melts, or unless the United States team or another team performs a miracle, as did the American squad in 1960, the Russians are expected to easily win the Olympic gold medal for the sixth time in the last seven tournaments."[16]

"Do you believe in miracles?"[edit]

With a capacity of 8,500, the Field House was packed.[17] The home crowd waved U.S. flags and sang patriotic songs such as "God Bless America".[10] The game was aired live on CTV in Canada, but not ABC in the United States. Thus, American viewers who resided in or near Canadian border regions and received the CTV signal could watch the game live, but the rest of the United States had to wait for a delayed rebroadcast.
After the Soviets declined a request to move the game from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. for U.S. television (this would have meant a 4 a.m. start in Moscow for Soviet viewers), ABC decided to broadcast the late-afternoon game on tape delay in prime time.[18] To this day some of the people that watched the game on television still believe that it was live.[19] Before the game, Brooks read his players a statement he had written out on a piece of paper, telling them that "You were born to be a player. You were meant to be here. This moment is yours."[20]

First period[edit]

As in several previous games, the U.S. team fell behind early. Vladimir Krutov deflected a slap shot by Aleksei Kasatonov past U.S. goaltender Jim Craig at the 9:12 mark to give the Soviets a 1–0 lead, and after Buzz Schneider scored for the United States at 14:03 to tie the game, the Soviets struck again with a Sergei Makarov goal with 17:34 gone. With his team down 2–1, Craig improved his play, turning away many Soviet shots before the U.S. team had another shot on goal (the Soviet team had 39 shots on goal in the game, the Americans 16).
In the waning seconds of the first period, Dave Christian fired a slap shot on Tretiak from 100 feet (30 m) away. The Soviet goalie saved the shot but misplayed the rebound, which bounced out some 20 feet (6.1 m) in front of him. Mark Johnson sliced between the two defenders, found the loose puck, and fired it past a diving Tretiak to tie the score with one second left in the period. This would be an important judgment call by the officials, as an official announcement confirming the goal did not come until many Soviet players were off the ice and heading to the locker room for intermission.[21] The first period ended with the game tied 2–2.[22]

Second period[edit]

Tikhonov replaced Tretiak with backup goaltender Vladimir Myshkin immediately after Johnson's tying goal,[23] a move which shocked players on both teams.[10] Tikhonov later identified this as the "turning point of the game",[24] and called it "the biggest mistake of my career".[25] Years later, when Johnson asked Slava Fetisov, now an NHL teammate, about the move, Fetisov responded with "Coach crazy".[26] Myshkin allowed no goals in the second period. The Soviets dominated play in the second period, outshooting the Americans 12–2, but scored only once, on apower play goal by Aleksandr Maltsev 2:18 into play. After two periods the Soviet Union led 3–2.

Third period[edit]

Vladimir Krutov was sent to the penalty box at the 6:47 mark of the third period for high-sticking. The Americans, who had managed only two shots on Myshkin in 27 minutes, had a power play and a rare offensive opportunity. Myshkin stopped a Mike Ramsey shot, then U.S. team captain Mike Eruzione fired a shot wide. Late in the power play, Dave Silk was advancing into the Soviet zone when Valeri Vasiliev knocked him to the ice. The puck slid to Mark Johnson.[27] Johnson fired off a shot that went under Myshkin and into the net at the 8:39 mark, as the power play was ending, tying the game at 3.[28] Only a couple of shifts later, Mark Pavelich passed to Eruzione, who was left undefended in the high slot. Eruzione, who had just come onto the ice, fired a shot past Myshkin, who was screened by Vasili Pervukhin.[29] This goal gave Team USA a 4–3 lead, its first of the game, with 10 minutes remaining.
The Soviets, trailing for the first time in the game, attacked furiously. Moments after Eruzione's goal, Maltsev fired a shot which ricocheted off the right goal post.[30] As the minutes wound down, Brooks kept repeating to his players, "Play your game. Play your game."[31] Instead of going into a defensive crouch, the United States continued to play offense, even getting off a few more shots on goal.[32] The Soviets began to shoot wildly, and Sergei Starikov admitted that "we were panicking". As the clock ticked down below a minute, the Soviets got the puck back into the American zone, and Mikhailov passed to Vladimir Petrov, who shot wide.[33] The Soviets never pulled Myshkin for an extra attacker, much to the Americans' disbelief. Starikov later explained that "We never did six-on-five", not even in practice, because "Tikhonov just didn't believe in it".[34] Craig kicked away a Petrov slap shot with 33 seconds left. Kharlamov fired the puck back in as the clock ticked below 20 seconds. A wild scramble for the puck ensued, ending when Johnson found it and passed it to Ken Morrow.[34] As the U.S. team tried to clear the zone (move the puck over the blue line, which they did with seven seconds remaining), the crowd began to count down the seconds left. SportscasterAl Michaels, who was calling the game on ABC along with former Montreal Canadiens goalie Ken Dryden, picked up on the countdown in his broadcast, and delivered his famous call:[35]
11 seconds, you've got 10 seconds, the countdown going on right now! Morrow, up to Silk. Five seconds left in the game. Do you believe in miracles?! YES!
The March 3, 1980 cover of Sports Illustrated ran without any accompanying captions or headlines.
As his team ran all over the ice in celebration, Herb Brooks sprinted back to the locker room and cried.[36] In the locker room afterwards, players spontaneously broke into a chorus of "God Bless America".[37]
During the broadcast wrap-up after the game, ABC Olympic sports anchor Jim McKay compared the American victory over the Soviets to a group of Canadian college football players defeating thePittsburgh Steelers (the recent Super Bowl champions and at the height of their dynasty).
The cover of the March 3, 1980 issue of Sports Illustrated was a photograph by Heinz Kluetmeier; it did not feature any explanatory captions or headlines, because, as Kluetmeier put it, "Everyone in America knew what happened".[38]
It's me Brian again... and here's Al Michaels with the call..........

+ 58.

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