The "Miracle on Ice" is the name in American popular culture for a medal-round men's ice hockey game during the 1980 Winter Olympics at Lake Placid, New York, on Friday, February 22. The United States team, made up of amateur and collegiate players and led by coach Herb Brooks, defeated the Soviet team, who were considered to be the best ice hockey team in the world at the time.
Team USA went on to win the gold medal by winning its last match over Finland. The Soviet Union took the silver medal by beating Sweden in its final game.
In 1999, Sports Illustrated named the "Miracle on Ice" the Top Sports Moment of the 20th Century. As part of its 100th anniversary celebrations in 2008, the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) chose the "Miracle on Ice" as the century's number-one international ice hockey story.
The Soviet Union entered the Olympic tournament as heavy favorites, having won the ice hockey gold medal in 1956 and every year since 1964. In the four Olympics after the Soviet squad was upset by Team USA at Squaw Valley in 1960, Soviet teams had gone 27–1–1 (W-L-T) and outscored the opposition 175–44. In head-to-head match-ups against the United States, the cumulative score over that period was 28-7. The Soviet players were amateurs (some were active-duty military) who played in a well-developed league with world class training facilities. They were led by legendary players in world ice hockey, such as Boris Mikhailov (a top line right winger and team captain), Vladislav Tretiak (considered by many to be the best ice hockey goaltender in the world at the time), the speedy and skilled Valeri Kharlamov, as well as talented, young, and dynamic players such as defenseman Viacheslav Fetisov and forwards Vladimir Krutov and Sergei Makarov. From that team, Tretiak, Kharlamov, and Fetisov would eventually be enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
U.S. head coach Herb Brooks conducted tryouts in Colorado Springs in the summer of 1979. Of the 20 players who eventually made the final Olympic roster, Buzz Schneider was the only one returning from the 1976 Olympic team. Nine players had played under Brooks at the University of Minnesota, while four more were from Boston University. Assistant coach Craig Patrick had played with Brooks on the 1967 U.S. national team.
The Soviet and American teams were natural rivals due to the decades-old Cold War. In addition, President Jimmy Carter was at the time considering a U.S. boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics, to be held in Moscow, in protest of the December 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. On February 9, the same day that the American and Soviet teams met in an exhibition game in New York City, U.S. Secretary of State Cyrus Vance denounced the impending Moscow games at a meeting of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). President Carter eventually decided in favor of the boycott.
US Hockey Team Rosters
No. Pos. Name Age Hometown College
30 G *Jim Craig 21 North Easton, MA Boston U.
3 D *Ken Morrow 22 Flint, MI Bowling Green
5 D *Mike Ramsey 19 Minneapolis, MN Minnesota
10 C *Mark Johnson 22 Madison, WI Wisconsin
24 LW *Rob McClanahan 22 Saint Paul, MN Minnesota
8 RW *Dave Silk 21 Scituate, MA Boston U.
6 D Bill Baker 22 Grand Rapids, MN Minnesota
9 C Neal Broten 20 Roseau, MN Minnesota
23 D Dave Christian 20 Warroad, MN North Dakota
11 RW Steve Christoff 21 Richfield, MN Minnesota
21 RW Mike Eruzione (C) 25 Winthrop, MA Boston U.
28 RW John Harrington 22 Virginia, MN Minnesota-Duluth
1 G Steve Janaszak 22 Saint Paul, MN Minnesota
17 D Jack O'Callahan 22 Charlestown, MA Boston U.
16 C Mark Pavelich 21 Eveleth, MN Minnesota-Duluth
25 LW Buzz Schneider 25 Babbitt, MN Minnesota
19 RW Eric Strobel 21 Rochester, MN Minnesota
20 D Bob Suter 22 Madison, WI Wisconsin
27 LW Phil Verchota 22 Duluth, MN Minnesota
15 C Mark Wells 21 St. Clair Shores, MI Bowling Green
No. Pos. Name Age Hometown
20 G *Vladislav Tretiak 27 Orudyevo, Moscow Oblast, Russia
2 D *Viacheslav Fetisov 21 Moscow, Russia
7 D *Alexei Kasatonov 20 Saint Petersburg, Russia
16 C *Vladimir Petrov 32 Krasnogorsk, Moscow Oblast, Russia
17 LW *Valeri Kharlamov 32 Moscow, Russia
13 RW *Boris Mikhailov (K) 35 Moscow, Russia
19 RW Helmuts Balderis 27 Riga, Latvia
14 D Zinetula Bilyaletdinov 24 Moscow, Russia
23 RW Aleksandr Golikov 27 Penza, Russia
25 C Vladimir Golikov 25 Penza, Russia
9 LW Vladimir Krutov 19 Moscow, Russia
11 RW Yuri Lebedev 28 Moscow, Russia
24 RW Sergei Makarov 21 Chelyabinsk, Russia
10 C/RW Aleksandr Maltsev 30 Kirovo-Chepetsk, Russia
1 G Vladimir Myshkin 24 Kirovo-Chepetsk, Russia
5 D Vasili Pervukhin 24 Penza, Russia
26 LW Aleksandr Skvortsov 25 Nizhny Novgorod, Russia
12 D Sergei Starikov 21 Chelyabinsk, Russia
6 D Valeri Vasiliev 30 Nizhny Novgorod, Russia
22 C Viktor Zhluktov 26 Inta, Russia