This is it, the gold medal game! Are you excited? Because you really should be. The journey did not end with the Soviets, which a lot of people tend to forget, but this game 100% deserves to be remembered.
What: USA 4 - 2 FIN
Who: Steve Christoff
Phil Verchota (assist: Dave Christian)
Rob McClanahan (assists: Mark Johnson, Dave Christian)
Mark Johnson (assist: Steve Christoff)
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
+ As this game got underway, viewers were provided with some fascinating stats about the U.S. team. In the first six games of the Olympics, the U.S. scored six goals in the first period, 10 goals in the second period, and 13 goals in the third period. As for goalkeeping, Jim Craig gave up eight goals in the first period, two goals in the second period, and three goals in the third period. They literally got better the longer they were on the ice. Is that not amazing?
+ Another game, another bad first period. Actually, this first period wasn't so much bad as it just ended with the U.S. down 1-0. They had a lot of good scoring opportunities but didn't convert any of them, and eventually lost that momentum. But at this point, Al Michaels and Ken Dryden were basically like "lol whatever, been there, came back from that." And even back in the studio, Jim McKay talked about how they'd trailed in every single game but one. Everyone was so utterly unconcerned, and it really felt like only a matter of time before the U.S. took the lead. So when Phil Verchota scored to tie the game at 2-2, Al Michaels was already writing the amazing come-from-behind narrative.
+ Okay, we need to talk about how on-point the U.S. penalty kill was. They were so effective and played so offensively that I often found myself forgetting they were playing a man short; Finland had a lot of trouble getting out of its own zone. As a matter of fact, the first goal of the game was essentially short-handed; Steve Christoff scored just as Mike Ramsey was getting out of the penalty box. So, while the teams technically were at equal strength, the goal was off of a short-handed play. And in the third period, the U.S. had to kill two back-to-back penalties, plus another one with just a handful of minutes left. And the final goal of the game was scored short-handed (leave it to Mark Johnson, honestly). Finland did score one power-play goal, but let's not split hairs.
+ After struggling to score for the entire tournament, Steve Christoff finally found his game against Finland (and with the gold medal on the line, what perfect timing!). He had only scored a single point before now (a goal against Romania), and promptly tripled his total points with a goal and an assist here. Steve was the leading goal scorer of the pre-Olympic season and third in overall points, so it was really great to see him get back to his old self with a bunch of really great scoring opportunities.
+ Probably my favorite bit of commentary from the whole tournament came after Rob McClanahan scored to give the U.S. its first lead: Al Michaels said, "If you had taken this whole script to Hollywood and gone into a producer's office, you'd be thrown out on your rear. Completely." And now here we are, 35 years later, with two scripted movies and two documentaries (in addition to a whole avalanche of books). Amazing.
And here's a fun bonus: what happens when there's a minute left on the clock and you're up by two goals?
Answer: probably a little bit of excitement. :)
WHERE CAN YOU WATCH?
As much as I wish this full game was available online somewhere, it isn't. However! You can watch Rob McClanahan's game-winning goal HERE, the final minute of play HERE, and highlights of all the goals HERE. Not too shabby!