“Great moments... are born from great opportunity. And that's what you have here, tonight, boys. That's what you've earned here tonight. One game. If we played 'em ten times, they might win nine. But not this game. Not tonight. Tonight, we skate with them. Tonight, we stay with them. And we shut them down because we can! Tonight, WE are the greatest hockey team in the world.”
This was just the beginning of a speech given by US Olympic Ice Hockey coach, Herb Brooks. This speech was given to his team in the 1980 Winter Olympics before they played they Soviet Union. This game in American history is known as the “Miracle on Ice” or better known as the movie “Miracle”. But why was it a Miracle? Why was the Soviet Union and the United States rivals? Lets rewind to 1979.
The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in December of 1979. This was part of the Cold War that continued for nine years. Because of the invasion President Jimmy Carter was contemplating a U.S. boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow. This caused tension between the Soviet Union and the US leading up to the 1980 Winter Olympics. That summer Herb Brooks held try outs in Colorado for college and/or amateur ice hockey players. The US had rules in place at that time that no professional athletes were allowed to compete in the Olympics. Therefore the final roster was comprised of college students that averaged an age of 21 years old. This would be the youngest team in US Olympic history and also the youngest team at the Olympic Winter Games. This in no way shape or form stopped the team from achieving their goal: an Olympic Gold Medal. In the last exhibition game leading up to the Olympic Games, the US team faced the Soviets. At the time the Soviet team had four Olympic gold medals since 1964 and were the favorites to win to the 1980 Olympics. They proved their strength when they defeated the US team 10-3 in the exhibition game at Madison Square With this huge lose the US team headed to Lake Placid to finally start the 1980 Winter Olympics. The US started the Olympic play group where they defeated Czechosolvikia, Norway, Romania and West Germany to move on to the medals round. And in the first round the US team would play the… Soviet Union. Dave Anderson a columnist at the New York Times wrote
"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." The USA defeated the Soviets 4-3. This was the “Miracle on Ice”. The US team comprised of college kids defeated a dominant team with seven Olympians. It is considered as one of the "the most transcending moment in the history of ice hockey in the United States” (Dave Oregan) The arena that was packed with 8,500 spectators flew America flags as players started to sing “God Bless America”. The US team went on to the defeat Finland 4-2 to win the gold medal.
Herb Brooks ended his speech in the locker room before his team entered the ice to play the Soviets with: “You were born to be hockey players. Every one of you. And you were meant to be here tonight. This is your time. Their time is done. It's over. I'm sick and tired of hearing about what a great hockey team the Soviets have. Screw 'em. This is your time. Now go out there and take it.”
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