Guys, you are in for a treat today. This game is without a doubt my favorite of the whole 1980 Olympic hockey tournament -- yes, better than the actual Miracle on Ice game, and yes, better than the gold medal game. I mean, steamrolling the second best team in the world? Come on. It doesn't get much better!
What: USA 7 - 3 CZE
Who: Mike Eruzione (assist: Neal Broten)
Mark Pavelich (assists: Buzz Schneider, John Harrington)
Buzz Schneider (assist: Mark Pavelich)
Mark Johnson (assist: Rob McClanahan)
Phil Verchota (assist: Dave Christian)
Buzz Schneider (assist: John Harrington)
Rob McClanahan (assist: Mark Johnson)
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
+ The Czechs scored the first goal of the game within just a few minutes, but after that, the U.S. completely took over. One of the Canadian commentators said that the Czechs were reeling and that he'd never seen them lose their composure like they did in this game. The first period ended with the score at 2-2, and... well, look at the final score. You can probably figure out how the rest of the game went. (#domination.) And if you recall in Miracle, during the Soviet game they have Ken Dryden say that at Madison Square Garden, the U.S. was playing "very tentative, very nervous, very much in awe of the Soviet team. But this is a U.S. team that tonight is not in awe of anyone." Well, he really said that, word for word. But in real life, it was said during this game. That's how good it was.
+ Um, can we talk about the Conehead line? Between Buzz Schneider, Mark Pavelich and John Harrington, they scored three goals and four assists. Prettyyyy casual. I have to tip my cap to my man Pav, since
+ With a goal and an assist, this game was Mark Johnson's Olympic coming out party. He hadn't gotten any points in the game against Sweden; he wasn't pleased about that and, before this game, said that it was Valentine's Day so he HAD to get a goal. (Adorable. I'm sure his fiancé appreciated that!) And after this game, he would go on to be the team's leading scorer in the Olympic tournament with five goals and six assists. What a baller.
+ Mark Johnson was a part of another oddly important moment that had nothing to do with scoring. Rather, it was his injury. He fell victim to a cheap crosscheck near the end of the game, when he was nowhere near the puck -- a penalty out of Czech frustration, basically. (Would that make it a crossczech? HAH.) As he was down on the ice for awhile, the cameras panned over to Herb Brooks behind the bench. Herb knew that Mark was his most valuable player, so there he was, yelling at this Czech player that he was going to shove his stick down his throat. He was furious. For everyone who was sick and tired of America being metaphorically kicked while it was down, they loved seeing this hard-ass American coach willing to stand up and fight for his boys.
+ I really need to give a shout-out to the defenders, because most of them go pretty unheralded, but they were all so on point in this game. Bill Baker got hit in the face with a slap shot in the first period and didn't miss a shift. Mike Ramsey was consistently riding Czech forwards out of plays like a pro. Ken Morrow was, as always, exactly where he needed to be at all times (and apparently separated his shoulder but kept it so discreet that you'd never have any idea). Dave Christian got his first assist (a nice little prelude to the seven others he'd go on to score) and single-handedly saved a goal when Jim Craig accidentally let a puck slip through his legs. Bob Suter had his moment in the sun when he was let loose on the Czechs to avenge Mark Johnson's injury. And they were all constantly throwing themselves onto the ice to block shots. Jack O'Callahan still wasn't medically cleared to play (though he did dress for this game), but every single other defender was in the action and a total rockstar.
In a nutshell: this game was beyond wonderful. And I need to quote Ken Dryden one more time, because he kind of sums it up better than I ever could;
"I think if any of us had heard of any of the U.S. players a few months ago, it would've been a Ramsey or a Johnson or a McClanahan. And while they've done their share tonight, tonight's game really belongs to the people that you never really hear much about; the Schneiders, the Paveliches, the Eruziones, the Wellses, the Harringtons. They've been excellent."Like I said, it's a beautiful thing. :)
WHERE CAN YOU WATCH?
You know what sucks? There used to be a seven-minute compilation of highlights from this game on YouTube, but it has apparently been set to private and it no longer accessible. (I threw an absolute fit when I realized this. Let's not even talk about it. I'm still bitter.) So, regretfully, all I can provide you with is footage of Mark Johnson's (admittedly beautiful) goal -- click HERE. But you can also watch Mark's injury and Herb's subsequent flip-out HERE. If I hadn't made it clear enough already, I HIGHLY recommend watching both!