Miracle Monday: USA vs. Sweden

Miracle Monday

Are you ready to get these Olympic games going?! After the debacle I talked about last week, it'll certainly be much more fun from here on out! Unless, of course, you don't think winning is fun. ;)

USA vs. Sweden at the Lake Placid 1980 Olympic Winter Games


What: USA 2 - 2 SWE

Who: Dave Silk (assists: Mike Ramsey, Mark Johnson)
         Bill Baker (assists: Mark Pavelich, Buzz Schneider)


+ This game took place the day before the opening ceremony. Between this and the fact that the U.S. team wasn't given much of a chance in hell at winning much of anything meant that the arena was far from full and pretty quiet. But as the game went on the fans slowly got louder (and there's actually a really neat story behind that!), and home ice advantage started coming into play. And from there on out, all games were standing room only.

Buzz Schneider scored a goal in the first period that ended up not counting, as he was called offsides. However, it's eerily similar to the goal he eventually goes on to score against the Soviets -- the exact same long slapshot from almost the exact same spot. Makes you wonder what kind of magic Buzz had behind that shot! :) The fact that he even shot in the first place caused a little bit of anger in the Swedish camp, as he was very clearly offsides and chose to take the shot anyway. But this was a great indicator of how this team played: you hustle until you hear a whistle.

+ If you've seen Miracle, you may remember that this game was the backdrop for Herb exploding at Rob McClanahan in the locker room between periods and accusing him of wimping out because his leg was bruised. That did actually happen in real life, and by all accounts was significantly worse than what the movie portrayed (it IS a Disney movie, after all). By going after Mac, Herb was trying to light a fire under the team, as the first period was seriously lackluster... and it worked. Early in the third period, Ken Dryden even comments on how markedly the U.S. had improved after the first period and a half. And if you watch the bench during the game, you'll notice Mac standing behind it; the pain in his leg was so bad that he couldn't sit down, so he spent his rest time stretching and trying to shake it out.

+ Dave Silk scored the first goal of the Olympics for the Americans. According to the commentators on the Canadian broadcast, he was the best player on the ice for the U.S. as he not only scored but also had numerous other chances. And thus began his ascent through the lineup; he played this game on the fourth line, but was so impressive that by the end of the Olympics, he was on the first line. This goal wasn't pretty by any means -- he and Mark Johnson actually almost get tangled up in each other -- but it sure got the job done.

+ Of course, I'd be completely remiss if I didn't mention Bill Baker's heroic last second goal to tie the game! The hilarious thing is that he hadn't even really been trying to score. The play started with a face-off in the Swedish end, and Bill ended up getting a pass. He didn't want it, so he wrapped the puck around the boards behind the net so it could be taken by someone else. But the play ends up taking it right back around, and this time when a pass came in his direction he decided to just get it on net, because maybe there'd be a rebound someone could knock in. But the shot went in, Bill became a hero and they all lived happily ever after! Seriously though, one of the most important goals scored by the U.S. was scored by complete accident. Equal parts amusing and awesome? Yes. :)


Do you want to hear something amazing? As far as I can find, this game wasn't broadcast in its entirety anywhere. Because 1) Olympic coverage back in the day was even lamer than it is now, 2) the U.S. wasn't supposed to do anything interesting so why bother, and 3) hockey wasn't a particularly popular sport in America yet. On the DVDs I have, there are a handful of minutes of highlights from the American broadcast (seriously, there's maybe 15 minutes in total), and first and second period highlights plus the full third period from the Canadian broadcast. So if you want to watch the full game... well, so do I. You can, however, watch the last 41 seconds of play -- including Bill's goal! -- HERE. :)

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1 comment :

  1. Wow! How exciting! Love your writing style. You always make me want to watch the video clips and they never disappoint