Miracle on Ice reunion set for Saturday, ahead of Hockey Day in America

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LAKE PLACID, N.Y. — The “Relive the Miracle” reunion at Herb Brooks Arena on Saturday night, bringing together all living 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey players to the site of their gold medal for the first time in 35 years, will not be broadcast live.

Perhaps that’s the way it should be. After all, the Miracle on Ice game was first shown on tape delay in the U.S. on Feb. 22, 1980.

Since then, small groups from the 20-man team convened for various appearances, but it’s believed they’ve all been together twice and never in Lake Placid. Some are grandfathers now.

“I guess when I look in the mirror, and I see all the gray hair, I guess time has gone by,” said Mark Johnson, the forward who scored twice in the 4-3 victory over the Soviets.

More about reunion during Hockey Day in America, Sunday at noon on NBC and online

The most well-known names, such as captain Mike Eruzione and goalie Jim Craig, fill their calendars with speaking engagements and events, even in small towns.

This week, Eruzione video chatted with high school students in Monon, Ind., population 2,000. Craig attended a minor-league hockey game in Pensacola, Fla., on Tuesday night.

“It’s never been exploited beyond reasonable means,” said Todd Walsh, the longtime Arizona Coyotes broadcaster who will moderate Saturday night’s event. “It still is in the cradle of what happened that night. It’s never been ruined by American culture. It’s almost untouchable.”

How the 1980 U.S. Olympic team reunion came together

“Relive the Miracle” will recreate 1980 with the players and through pictures and video on a large screen inside Herb Brooks Arena, known as the Olympic Fieldhouse when the U.S. hockey team stunned the Soviets and went on to capture gold.

The event will run chronologically through four segments — “The Journey,” “The Steps,” “The Miracle” and “The Gold.”

It will conclude with the raising of defenseman Bob Suter‘s jersey to the rafters. Suter died of a heart attack in September, becoming the first member of the team to pass away, and in a way helping drive the rest of the players to reunite while they still can. Coach Herb Brooks died in 2003.

“I guess every anniversary has a different meaning,” Eruzione said. “It’s a little bittersweet.”

On Sunday, NBC will celebrate Hockey Day in America with studio coverage on site in Lake Placid on the exact 35-year anniversary date of the Miracle on Ice. The broadcast will start at noon ET, include Olympian interviews and a feature on forward Mark Wells.

Al Michaels, who uttered the famous “Do you believe in miracles?” line on the 1980 broadcast, will have a small role in the weekend’s events.

Eruzione said strangers tell him they remember where they were for four events in their lives — when John F. Kennedy was assassinated, when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded, 9/11 and the Miracle on Ice.

“To think that a moment can capture a nation,” Eruzione said.

Eruzione wishes the team could get together more often.

“When we’re together, we’re almost like little kids,” he said. “Very, very immature in our behavior.”

Photos: Herb Brooks’ Miracle on Ice items up for auction