I write about NASCAR, but looking back on the most memorable sports memories in my lifetime, the most significant would have to be the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York.
The cold war was winding down and I was a 13 year old kid watching my American Hockey Team in the medal round against the Soviet Union. My dad and I sat in the living room of our Long Island home. The coal stove was burning hot and we were on the edge of our seats watching Team USA captain Mike Eruzione and the guys of our underdog Team USA perform a miracle.
Team USA was never expected to make it to the medal round, and we had virtually no chance of besting the invincible Soviet Team. The game began and we went down early when the Soviet Union scored on our goalie Jim Craig, but left wing Buzz Schneider tied it up for us before the Soviet Union scored again.
The Soviet Union had an incredible 39 shots on goal to our American 16 shots, but Craig continued to block shot after shot to keep us in the game. Each period, the pride in my young chest grew and grew. “USA, USA!!”, my dad and I shouted at the TV along with the crowd that filled the arena, but at the end of the second period the USSR was up 3-2.
USA center Mike Johnson scored on a power play in the third period tying the game up, and with just ten minutes left Captain Mike Eruzione scored again and we were up 4-3. The time ticked away as my dad and I sat on the edge of our seats. The Soviet’s kept shooting on goal like machine guns on the battle field, and Craig managed to block them all.
The final minute of the game was intense, as I sat on my knees in front of the old console TV. “USA, USA!!”, we cheered and that’s when announcer Al Michaels said the words that would go down in American Olympic history….
“Eleven seconds, you’ve got ten seconds, the countdown going on right now! Morrow, up to Silk. Five seconds left in the game. Do you believe in miracles?…YES!”
I became a hockey fan even before Team USA beat the USSR that day. I found out what it was like to be proud of your team, and my dad was sitting right next to me feeling the same thing. Team USA went on to beat Finland in another come from behind win that garnered Team USA the gold medal and Olympic history.