Saturday, February 27, 2010

Feb 27, 1960: Team USA’s original “Miracle on Ice” leads to Gold in Squaw Valley

Img214050389 When the term “Miracle on Ice” is used, the automatic reaction is Team USA’s 1980 upset of the Soviets in the semi-finals of the 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympics.

In my opinion. Team USA’s true miracle came 20 years earlier, on home ice, in Squaw Valley, California.

Similar to their 1980 counterparts, the 1960 squad was made from a bunch of no-name youngsters, most of whom were from the Massachusetts and Minnesota area.

They played an 18-game tour prior to the Squaw Valley Games, winning 10, tying 4, and losing 4 games, hardly scaring anyone.

Having won their preliminary group, which included a surprising 7-5 win over the Czechs, Team USA moved on to the round robin medal round.

The American stars on the squad were forwards Billy Cleary and brothers Bill and Roger Christian and goaltender Jack McCartan.

Rogers Christian’s son Dave won the Gold with the Lake Placid team and went on to NHL fame.

On February 25, the Americans beat out Canada, one of the strong favorites to win the gold, by a 2-1 score. McCartan stopped 39 of the 40 shots fired at him.

On February 27, 10,000 fans packed the Blyth Arena for their home team’s next game against the Soviets.

The Americans got off to an early start with a 1-0 lead, but the Soviets responded with two quick goals.  The Christian brothers took over with Roger setting up Bill twice, giving Team USA a 3-2 victory.

The winning goal is shown below.

It was the first time the American hockey team had ever beaten a Soviet squad.

BE024463 Fans jump on the ice after the USA’s 3-2 win over the USSR

The next day the Americans again met the Czechoslovakian team, and trailed 4-3, after two periods.

With the game starting at 8AM, many feel the American were overtired from the night prior.

Oly Hocky USA vs CSR Team USA on route to Gold with a win over the Czechs

The apparent story is that Soviet player Nikolay Sologubov, in a rather surprising gesture given the era, came in Team USA’s dressing room between periods and showed the US players that they should take oxygen to give them more stamina for the final period.

They did so, and trounced the Czechs in the 3rd period, winning 9-4.

With a 5-0 record in the medal round (7-0 for the tournament), Team USA clinched the Gold Medal with Canada and the Soviets earning the silver and bronze respectively.

No comments: