Do you believe in miracles? US victory over Soviets still inspires 40 years later

Posted at 7:39 AM, Feb 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-21 08:10:51-05

It was the ultimate underdog story, a David vs. Goliath pinning unlikely heroes against a powerful dynasty. We're talking about the Miracle on Ice.

It was February 22, 1980 and the venue was the XIII Olympic Winter Games in Lake Placid, New York. We were right in the midst of the Cold War.

The mighty Soviet Union team had won the gold in Olympic hockey four straight times going back to 1964 and hadn't even lost an Olympic hockey game since 1968. In fact, just three days before the Lake Placid games began, the USSR blew the United States team out 10-3 in an exhibition game.

The American team was young and made up of amateurs. The average age was 22 on the team and not much was expected of them.

But the team was scrappy, and advanced to the medal round, where they would meet the Soviet Union in the Semifinal.

If we're calling this game the Miracle on Ice, then American goalie Jim Craig was an angel.

He played the game out of his mind, stopping 36 of 39 shots including some remarkable saves.

In true underdog fashion the US was down 3-2 heading into the third period. About halfway through the third, the US tied it. Then shortly after that, team captain Mike Eruzione cemented his legacy in the hearts and minds of Americans everywhere by scoring the game-winning goal.

The United States had done it. Despite being outshot 39-16, the determined group of young American hockey players had taken down the best team in the world on the biggest stage.

"Do you believe in miracles?" Al Michaels' call to end the broadcast sent chills down the spines of Americans everywhere.

It would have been easy to get stuck on that mountaintop and celebrate the win, but two days later the team beat Finland 4-2 in the gold medal game to finish the remarkable story.

The triumphant story was later made into a movie starring Kurt Russell as team USA's coach Herb Brooks.

The triumphant story was later made into a movie starring Kurt Russell as team USA's coach Herb Brooks.

The year before the 1980 Olympics, the Challenge Cup was held, where the Soviet Union team took on the NHL All-Stars. The Soviets won two of those games, one of them by a score of 6-0.

The year after the 1981 Olympics, the Soviet team beat a Wayne Gretzky-led Canada team in the Canada Cup by a score of 8-1.

But on that surreal day in 1980, it was a bunch of scrappy American college kids that got the best of the Soviet machine.

It's a story that really does make you believe in miracles.