A bunch of American kids, average age 21, took on the Soviet juggernaut and fearlessly handed the Soviets a 4-3 defeat. It was a great hockey game, but more than the game is remembered. The celebration at the final buzzer was, and still is, a special moment. During the final seconds of the game, US players were cheering, banging their sticks against the boards, knowing that they had achieved the impossible. At the buzzer, the players erupted from the US bench onto the ice, throwing sticks and hugging the nearest teammate. The goaltender, Jim Craig, unshaven with a heavy black few days growth, his gameday ritual, smiling broadly, his steely blue eyes gleaming. The front-toothless, ear to ear smile of Charlestown's Jack O'Callahan, arms raised as he straddled Mike Ramsey. Ramsey was on his back on the ice, arms raised jubilantly. Groups of players embracing, tears flowing amid the deafening cheers of the hometown crowd in Lake Placid, NY
Kids, playing together for about six months taking the Soviets who had played together for years They had a coach who knew what it would take to win a Gold Medal in the Olympics and convinced his team to buy into his system. At the end, the coach, Herb Brooks, was alone in the locker room as his team celebrated on the ice. It was their moment,not his. Photographs and video show the Soviets watching the Americans, in what looked like awe. Or maybe, they just could not believe they lost. After several minutes the teams lined up for the tradition post-game handshakes. The Americans, smiling broadly, and the Soviets with their downcast faces.
Two days later the American faced Finland in the gold medal game. Trailing 2-1 at the end of the second period, Brooks appealed to his team one last time. "If you lose this game you'll take it to your fucking graves....you fucking graves." The American went out and scored 3 third period goals to win the gold medal with a 4-2 win. The crowning moment was at the medal ceremony. Each player was called to the podium to receive his medal. Winthrop native and team captain Mike Eruzione received his medal last. He stood alone on the podium, representing his team and his country during the playing our National Anthem. Following the anthem, he waved his teammates up onto the stand. One last, indelible image - 20 young men crowding the podium in an embrace, celebrating for the final time as one.
The kids are all now in their fifties. Some had success in the NHL, all seem to have been successful in life. There were personal ups and downs for some, but doesn't that happen to us all? We were fortunate to be able to watch the 1980 US Olympic Hockey Team, but the team was even more fortunate. They got to live it.