Miracle on Ice

For those of us old enough to remember it, the Miracle on Ice was not only a highlight of the 1980 Lake Placid games, it was one of the most unforgettable upsets in sports history -- a deeply moving story of a scrappy team of underdogs who pulled together to topple the reigning Goliaths of the game. Even more than that, it stands out as one of those rare athletic achievements that transcend sports entirely. In the midst of the Cold War, this little hockey team did nothing less than unite a nation. It gave Americans a much-needed sense of pride after years of disillusionment from the Vietnam War, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, an energy crisis, and economic uncertainty.

The mostly college-level U.S. team, seeded seventh out of 12 teams at the start of the Winter Games, began to garner attention when they tied Sweden in the first round, 2-2. They then pulled off a surprising 7-3 victory over the talented Czech team, followed by wins against Norway, Romania, West Germany, and Germany. On a roll, they were now facing the Soviets -- not only their Cold War rivals but the team heavily favored to win the Olympic gold. Packed with seasoned veterans and strong new players, the Soviet squad had dominated the field over the four previous Olympic Games, and had crushed the U.S. in an earlier exhibition match.

The Americans were down 3-2 in the final period of the momentous match when a shot by Mark Johnson tied them up. Shortly after, U.S. captain Mike Eruzione scored again, causing the stadium -- and just about the entire country -- to erupt in chants of "USA! USA!" This unforgettable fourth goal propelled the American team to victory against their formidable Cold War opponents, and secured their place in sports and American history. The U.S. went on to defeat Finland in the final round and take home the gold medal.

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