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Saturday marks the 40th anniversary of the Miracle on Ice, widely considered one of the greatest moments in U.S. sports history. Facing a Soviet Union juggernaut that hadn't lost an Olympic game in 12 years, Team USA overcame the odds on Feb. 22, 1980. They beat the USSR 4-3, capturing the hearts and dreams of the nation.
With 10 minutes left in the game, it was Winthrop's Mike Eruzione, Team USA's captain, who scored the winning goal. Radio Boston spoke with Eruzione, who now works at Boston University, about that goal and the legacy of the Miracle on Ice.
On how Team USA approached the game against the Soviet Union in the midst of the Cold War:
We focused on the hockey game. We didn’t know what was going on around us. We weren’t allowed to talk to the media, so we didn’t know what was happening other than what was going on in Lake Placid and maybe at home with our family and friends. That was a good thing, because we were shocked by it when we got out into the country and realized: This thing was pretty huge. So, we were in a little village in Lake Placid, and pretty much kept to ourselves, and the task at hand was to play hockey ... the political climate, that was never discussed ... To us, it was a hockey game.
On what Team USA was up against in taking on the USSR team:
They were considered the best team in the world. I mean, they never played the Edmonton Oilers [who hockey legend Wayne Gretzky played for at the time]. Although, they did beat almost all the NHL teams they played. And then they beat the NHL All Stars by a score of 6-0 [in 1979].
So, they were professionals. We were college kids. The youngest Olympic team [the USA] ever put on the ice. We were, by far, the youngest Olympic team in the tournament. And it was an incredible upset, it was a great victory. But for us, like I said, it was a hockey game, but for the country it was something greater.
On the current tensions between the USA and Russia:
That’s the world that we live in. It’s unfortunate, and hopefully we can get through this battle that we’re going [through] right now, and everybody kind of come together. I’m not a political person, I don’t get involved in politics, although ... I played golf with President Trump last year. I’ve known him a long time.
I think we’re going to be invited to the White House, the '80 Olympic team, and it would be a great honor to go to the White House. Not necessarily supporting the president, but supporting what the White House is. And, I don’t know, maybe the next Olympic games something will happen to kind of rally the troops again.
On whether teams or players should boycott White House visits:
I’m old school again. I think you respect the office. I remember 1980. We went to the White House and a lot of people weren’t happy with Jimmy Carter, especially the Olympians because he boycotted the Summer Games. So a lot of people were really disappointed, and some said they weren’t going to go because of that reason.
But we all went, out of respect for the office. Not so much sometimes the person that’s in it, but what the White House stands for.
This segment aired on February 21, 2020.
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