Editor's note: This is the fifth in a series of occasional posts looking back 40 years to the Miracle on Ice.
Part One: A long, tiring road to Lake Placid
If a picture is indeed worth 1,000 words then former Minneapolis Star (and later Star Tribune) photographer Tom Sweeney logged about 75,000 worth of content during the Lake Placid Winter Olympics. His story of capturing the U.S. hockey victory over the Soviet Union is truly not to be missed by any fan of sports.
The Minneapolis Tribune had its staff in Lake Placid as well and put even more boots on the ground back home when the ultimate upset occurred 40 years ago this weekend.
Here is a look at select snippets of content, presented to readers Feb. 23, 1980: the morning after Team USA knocked off Russia 4-3.
Columnist Joe Soucheray, on USA pride in upstate New York
America’s people would not leave the arena until Mark Johnson tossed his stick to a fan. America’s people would not leave the arena until they had stopped laughing and crying and dancing in the aisles. A fan crawled over the boards and paraded America’s flag around the rink. America’s people chanted the initials of this country until they were hoarse and they kept on chanting as they streamed from the building and into the cold streets. Olympic workers in the adjacent Lake Placid High School pushed open windows and screamed America’s name. And down on Mirror Lake, where nightly Olympic medal ceremonies have been held, the first boom of the evening’s fireworks display shook the air and people stopped in their tracks because something magical was happening. Fireworks were bursting in air and strangers were hugging each other in the streets. America works. America’s team proved that.
Reporter John Gilbert, on the moments after the game
Team captain Mike Eruzione skated in to score at 10:00 [of the third period] and the Americans held firm to the finish. “Everything we had to do to win, we did,” said Eruzione, engulfed by a swarm of fans as he stepped outside the Olympic Field House. “They’re the best team in the world, you know … Wait a minute. No they’re not. Maybe we are.”
Marching around outside was most of the overflow 8,000 who had screamed, chanted and waved flags and banners. Meanwhile, President Carter called the dressing room where the players were singing “God Bless America” to invite the team to the White House.
Gilbert, on a night of emotion
“This,” coach Herb Brooks said, “will cost [Gophers AD Paul] Giel a bundle.” Then he laughed. He may get some pro offers from his outstanding job at Lake Placid, but he was joking about … upping the ante on his contract.
Just then, North Stars General Manager Lou Nanne burst through the door of the office where Brooks was hiding from the crowd and the reporters. Nanne was wearing his usual flashy clothes but he had a ski jacket tied around his midsection. “I got so excited,” Nanne said, “that I leaped out of my seat at the end of the game and ripped the seat of my pants.”
Soon-to-be 60-year-old columnist Sid Hartman, working the phones
John Mayasich, one of the stars of the 1960 U.S. Olympic hockey team that beat the Russians and won the gold medal, said the current American team faces a situation similar to the one his team encountered. “Now the Americans have to beat the Finns. And it won’t be any pushover,” Mayasich said.
Mayasich wouldn’t compare the two teams and their accomplishments but did say that “the players now are bigger, stronger, faster and the Olympic team has a lot more depth than we had. We needed good goaltending to win and Jack McCartan gave it to us. Jim Craig has done it for this team.”
What was Mayasich doing Friday night? He and Stan Hubbard, a longtime friend and ex-Gophers teammate, were coaching a bantam hockey team at a tournament in Roseville.
Elsewhere, compiled by Tribune reporters Gary Libman, Tom Sorensen and freelancer Brian Wicker
Residents of northern Minnesota, which supplied seven members of the 20-man U.S. team, gathered around radios in large numbers to listen to the U.S. victory.
“The parties are already starting,” said deputy sheriff Dennis Dagen of Warroad.
After the game, phone lines were jammed.
Bev Baker, 17, sister of Grand Rapids defenseman Bill Baker, said her family received congratulatory phone calls from North Carolina, California, Oklahoma, Chicago and Canada.
Dan Mramor, owner of the Little Wagon on S. 4th Street in Minneapolis, said neither the Gophers, Vikings, North Stars or even the bar’s own women’s softball team had ever gotten a crowd this excited.
“Gophers, Gophers, Gophers,” a man yelled. Nobody told him Eruzione was an eastern guy, a star at Boston University. At that point, nobody cared.”