With virtual graduations the norm, one of the engineers of the Miracle on Ice has done his part to congratulate students.
Mike Eruzione, captain of the U.S. hockey team that stunned the Soviet Union in the 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympics, joined a Zoom call to help celebrate Master’s Degree graduates from the Manhattanville College School of Professional Studies.
“Congratulations to you all on this amazing achievement in this difficult time,” Eruzione said. “Getting your Master’s Degree is quite an achievement, and although we are in a difficult period, you have accomplished something very special.”
Eruzione shared how the 1980 team was facing seemingly insurmountable odds to win, but the players believed in themselves and coach Herb Brooks, and won the gold medal by defeating Finland after taking down the mighty Soviets. He likened it to what people are going through now with the coronavirus pandemic, sacrificing against the odds.
“Eruzione is quite an inspiring speaker and he gave us all a terrific memory,” said Manhattville associated dean Laura Persky. “It was more powerful than I had imagined it would be to have him join our virtual celebration.”
How Al Michaels ended up calling the ‘Miracle on Ice’
Hockey was not alien to Al Michaels before he became ABC Sports’ hockey announcer for the 1980 Olympic Games. Growing up in Brooklyn, he would attend New York Rovers and later New York Rangers games at Madison Square Garden. He knew the game, that was no question.
But Michaels’ resume of calling hockey prior to Lake Placid consisted of one single game: USSR vs. Czechoslovakia at the 1972 Winter Games in Sapporo, Japan. The Soviets would win 5-2 for their third of what would be four straight Olympic gold medals.
When Michaels was preparing to cover the ’80 Olympics, he wasn’t sure what his assignment would be. ABC had an announcing roster highlighted by Keith Jackson, Jim McKay, and Howard Cosell and covering Eric Heiden’s quest for five speed skating golds was a coveted gig.
Michaels’ one game of experience was enough for ABC Sports head Roone Arledge to put him on hockey.
“I was pretty happy about it because among other things, when you’re doing a Winter Olympic sport, you want to be inside,” Michaels said on a conference call with reporters this week. “So I was staying nice and toasty and warm, and of course as it progressed, there was never any opportunity for anybody else to come in and do those games, because again, at that point, by the time the Soviet game had taken place, I had done six games, and none of those guys had done any still.
“So I was fairly confident we would roll down to the end of the tournament and away we went. But you talk about getting fortunate. As I tell people to this day, there were not a lot of miracles on the biathlon course. I could have been assigned to that. So it all worked out.”
No time to script the final call
It all worked out and resulted in one of the biggest upsets and most legendary calls in sports history. The Soviets pressed as the U.S. led 4-3, leaving Michaels unable to script a final call.
“To think about what would be said at the end of the game or how it would be said never could enter my mind as the Soviets are putting pressure on,” he recalled. “I’ve got to call it, I’ve got to call it pass by pass, shot by shot.
“And then just serendipitous that with six or seven seconds to go, the puck comes out to center ice, and now the game is going to be over. The Soviets have no time to mount a last rush. The puck is in the neutral zone. And the word that popped into my head was miraculous. That’s just the word that popped in, and it got morphed into a question and quick answer, and away we went.
“But all I’m trying to do at that point is call the game, don’t blow a call. But the Soviets could have tied the game. How insane would that have sounded if I would have said that as the Soviets tie the game with one second to go?
“It was from my heart. It had nothing to do with what it meant to the country or anything beyond sports, but as somebody who’s loved sports since I was five years old, this was an upset. This was a gigantic, gigantic upset, and so that’s why the word miraculous came into my brain, and I said what I said. But that had everything to do with what an incredible moment this is, and not something that I ever thought would live in posterity, because remember in those years, too, nobody had a home video machine, videotape machine, so this is not something you think lives forever.”
(Even 40 years later, the ties to the home of the “Miracle on Ice” continue for Michaels. His 13-year-old grandson plays travel hockey in Southern California and his team won an October tournament in Lake Placid.)
The better line, according to Eruzione
The American public didn’t hear Michaels’ call live because the game was on tape-delay and aired in primetime. Mike Eruzione, who scored the winning goal, didn’t hear the legendary line until weeks later. After “Miracle” game, the rest of the team watched it on television as he and goaltender Jim Craig did interviews.
While “Do you believe in miracles? Yes!” lives on, it’s a different line from the Finland game that’s stuck with Eruzione.
“You know, I never thought it was a miracle, but it was a catchy phrase and it sounded right,” Eruzione said. “I thought Al’s best call, which I thought got lost in this whole thing, was ‘This impossible dream comes true,’ when we beat Finland, because it was an impossible dream, and I’m not talking about the Red Sox. I’m talking about this was a dream that we had as players to go to the Olympic Games and win a medal, let alone have a chance to win the gold medal.
“Everybody gets caught up in ‘Do you believe in miracles? Yes,’ but I thought ‘This impossible dream comes true’ was even greater, and Al and I have played some golf together in some celebrity events, and we’re talking down the fairway and we always hear it, ‘Hey, Mike, hey, Al, do you believe in miracles? Yes.’ I walk through an airport and somebody will say, ‘Hey, Mike Eruzione, do you believe in miracles?’
“So it’s the catch line that everybody talks about, and it was spectacular, and that’s why Al is such a great commentator. He captured the moment and what it was. But I still think the second line after Finland kind of got lost in the shuffle because I thought that was spectacular as well.”
Jim Craig, goaltender for the 1980 U.S. Men’s Olympic Hockey team, joined Golf Channel’s Chantel McCabe to discuss hockey, his love of golf and his new book, “We Win!”.
This Saturday marks the 40th anniversary of the “Miracle on Ice,” the stunning upset by the U.S. Olympic hockey team over the heavily-favored Soviet Union at the Lake Placid Winter Olympics. The Americans would go on to top Finland in their next game to win the gold medal. Craig led all goaltenders in the tournament with a .916 save percentage, 419:36 minutes played, and 163 saves in seven games played.
Join Golf Channel’s Chantel McCabe each month as she catches up with personalities from the golfing world and beyond.
The Miracle on Ice – 40th Anniversary, featuring Al Michaels, who called men’s hockey at the 1980 Winter Olympics, and Mike Tirico, will premiere tonight at 11:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, following Wednesday Night Hockey coverage of Rangers-Blackhawks.
Michaels and Tirico recall ‘Miracle on Ice’ in NBCSN special
NBC Sports celebrates Hockey Day in America this Sunday with an NHL tripleheader on NBC and NBCSN, as well as a collection of stories and features which explore hockey’s impact and influence across the U.S.
Al Michaels may never get tired of talking about “The Miracle on Ice,” and can you really blame him?
NBC Sports will debut a 30-minute special – “Miracle on Ice – 40th Anniversary” – featuring Mike Tirico’s conversation with Michaels on Wednesday, Feb. 19, at 11:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Michaels and Tirico look back at the U.S. Olympic men’s ice hockey team’s gold-medal run at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y.
As you can see from the video above, Michaels and Tirico set the scene, depicting a tough time in America. That stunning victory gave the country a boost, and created an enduring memory. You don’t get much more “Hockey Day in America” than the “Miracle on Ice.”
NBC Hockey Day in America schedule
Red Wings at Penguins – NBC – 12 p.m. ET (Watch live) – John Forslund will call the matchup with Joe Micheletti from PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, Pa.
Bruins at Rangers – NBC – 3 p.m. ET (Watch live) – Mike Tirico will call the matchup at Madison Square Garden alongside Pierre McGuire and Mike Milbury.
Blues at Predators – NBCSN – 6 p.m. ET (Watch live) – Chris Cuthbert will call the action from Bridgestone Arena alongside Darren Pang.
GRAND MARAIS, Minn. (AP) – Mark Pavelich, a forward on the 1980 ”Miracle on Ice” U.S. Olympic hockey team who went on to play for the New York Rangers and two other NHL teams, has been charged with assault for allegedly beating a neighbor with a metal pole and breaking several of the man’s bones.
The 61-year-old Pavelich attacked his neighbor last week at Pavelich’s home in the small Lake Superior community of Lutsen, Minnesota, after they returned from fishing, authorities allege in the criminal complaint. Pavelich told investigators he believed the man had ”spiked” his beer, leading to the alleged attack, it states.
First responders found the neighbor in shock with ”obvious disfigurement of his leg,” KMSP-TV reported. He also had a bruised kidney, two cracked ribs and a fractured vertebra.
Pavelich faces charges of second- and third-degree assault, possession of an illegal shotgun and receiving a gun with an altered or missing serial number. During a hearing Monday in Cook County District Court, the judge ordered a mental competency hearing for Pavelich, who didn’t have an attorney listed in online court records as of Wednesday.
He remains in custody in lieu of $250,000 bail, the Star Tribune reported.
Pavelich played five seasons with the Rangers and parts of one season each with the Minnesota North Stars and San Jose Sharks, potting 137 goals and dishing out 192 assists in his 355 NHL games. He also played professionally in Europe.
Pavelich had two assists in the United States’ ”Miracle” 4-3 win over the Soviet Union in a medal-round game of the 1980 Olympic tournament. The U.S. then beat Finland to win the gold medal.
In 2012, his 44-year-old wife, Kara, died in an accidental fall from a second-story balcony at their home. Two years later, Pavelich sold his gold medal for $262,900 through an auction house, saying he wanted to help his adult daughter.