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Remembering 1980 Coach Herb Brooks

April 6, 2017
By ANDY FLYNN - Editor (aflynn@lakeplacidnews.com) , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - As soon as the 2017 Miracle on Ice Fantasy Camp draft was over Monday, March 27 at the Lake Placid Conference Center, 1980 U.S. hockey team player and fantasy camp commissioner Mark Wells walked by the blue poster memorializing his Olympic coach, Herb Brooks (1937-2003).

"I pray for that man every day," Wells said, stopping to interpret the photo on the poster.

Accompanying the photo of Brooks on the poster is one of the iconic images of the U.S. hockey team on Feb. 22, 1980 after they won the "Miracle on Ice" game 4-3 against the powerhouse team from the Soviet Union. The image shows players with wide smiles, screaming for joy, as they cleared the bench and mobbed goalie Jim Craig, who can barely be seen on the bottom of the pile on the ice.

Article Photos

After the Miracle on Ice Fantasy Camp draft Monday, March 27 in the Lake Placid Conference Center, 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team player Mark Wells, who was the commissioner for this year’s camp, points to himself in the celebratory photo taken after his team won the “Miracle on Ice” game against the Soviet Union on Feb. 22, 1980.
(News photo — Andy Flynn)

Wells pointed to his jersey, No. 15, and explained that he was hovering over Craig to make sure he didn't get hurt by a stray skate blade. After all, even though they had beat the Soviets, they still had to play one more game. The Miracle on Ice did not clinch the gold medal for the U.S.; it only set them up for the final round. That came on Feb. 24 against Finland with a score of 4-2. The Soviets took the silver medal with a 9-2 win over Sweden.

"We still have one more game," Wells recalled telling his teammates as the 11,000 spectators screamed, danced and literally shook the steel and concrete arena.

Hockey experts had picked the U.S. team to finish seventh in the 1980 tournament - out of 12 teams - and, according to the Feb. 28, 1980 issue of the Lake Placid News, Brooks had said it would take a miracle to simply win a bronze medal. The last time the U.S. had won the gold was in Squaw Valley, California in 1960.

"You are looking at people who startled the athletic world, not just the hockey world, but the entire athletic world," Brooks said in a press conference after the gold-medal game.

Brooks died in a car accident in 2003, and two years later, the state Olympic Regional Development Authority - which was created in 1981 to operate the 1980 Olympic venues as tourist attractions - renamed the fieldhouse the Herb Brooks Arena, which includes the 1980 Rink.

"What an absolutely spectacular decision," 1980 Captain Mike Eruzione said in 2005 after then Gov. George Pataki announced the name change. "It's our memories. What better place for Herb Brooks' legacy than where we won the gold medal."

In addition to a building bearing his name, a metal plaque honors Brooks outside one of the locker rooms at the Olympic Center arena.

 
 

 

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