Thursday, February 8, 2018

1980 Miracle On Ice: Still Giving Us Goosebumps

1980 Topps Hockey, O Pee Chee, Olympic Gold, 1980

The improbable victory of the USA Hockey team over the Soviets in the 1980 Olympics never seems to get old. In fact, many forget that the gold medal was won a few days later when USA defeated Finland.

The Soviets had won Gold in five of six prior Olympics and were the favorites once again in 1980.  Comprised of mainly professional hockey players with substantial experience, while the US team, the youngest in the tournament, was comprised entirely of amateurs.  The US team had a bumpy exhibition season that culminated with a 10–3 drubbing at the hands of the Soviets.

Olympic play began with the Americans surprising many with their team work and aggressive style.  Their first game vs. Sweden, though a 2–2 draw, was dramatic and set the tone for a huge 7–3 win over Czechoslovakia, who were the favorite for the silver medal.  With two of their toughest opponents out of the way, the US sailed to victories against Norway, Romania, and West Germany, advancing to the medal round.  Meanwhile the Soviets destroyed all their opponents by an average score of roughly 10–2.

Up against the scrappy US team, the Soviets took the first lead and the first period ended 2–2. The Soviets controlled the second period out shooting the Americans 12–2, but only managed to score once to lead 3–2.  But the Americans stormed back in the third period scoring two goals with their aggressive style and leading for the first time, 4–3.  The Soviets came at the US hard but team USA kept to their offensive play, avoiding going into a conservative defensive mode.  The US team held tight as the crowd in the Olympic Center began to count down the seconds.  Al Michaels made his famous call, “do you believe in miracles? YES!”

The gold medal wasn’t won yet. In the next game vs. Finland, down 2–1 after two periods, coach Herb Brooks address his players in between periods, "If you lose this game, you'll take it to your fucking graves."  The team responded with three goals in the final period to win gold.  Just writing about it still gives me the chills!

This team never had a proper period-style card set so RetroCards is delivering it.  Here is the entire team: Bill Baker, Neal Broten, Jim Craig, Dave Christian, Steve Christoff, Mike Eruzione, John Harrington, Steve Janaszak, Mark Johnson, Rob McClanahan, Jack O'Callahan, Mark Pavelich, Buzz Schneider, Dave Silk, Eric Strobel, Bob Suter, Phil Verchota, and Mark Wells. Also featured is coach Herb Brooks, a team card, and two victory cards.  Get your set here!

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