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A Miracle to Remember

“You're looking for players whose name on the front of the sweater is more important than the one on the back. I look for these players to play hard, to play smart and to represent their country.” And that’s just what he did. Herb Brooks was undoubtedly one of the all time best coaches in the history of hockey. As the 2014 Winter Olympics roll around, thoughts of the past come back, and we remember Herb Brooks for taking part in one of the most inspiring and patriotic moments this nation has ever known.

It was the spring of 1979 and letters were sent out to recruit 70 hockey players from around the country. They all had hopes in representing the United in the 1980 Winter Olympics. They all knew that it wouldn’t be easy to make the team; only 20 players would receive the chance to compete in Lake Placid. They all tried their hardest to earn their place knowing that it was very likely that the man to their left and right would be sent back home. They hoped they wouldn’t be going too.

Once training started, the men worked hard, and those who couldn’t handle the pressure were sent home. Only the best of the amateur players remained for Coach Brooks to be combed through. 25 were left, the team was sent to Europe to compete in ten games. In these the US won eight before being sent back to the states where they would face the teams from their own NHL. Many had dreamed that they would someday be part of the National Hockey League, and now facing these teams seemed completely unreal. But they were soon knocked out of their fantasy as they realized that the teams were better than they had thought. After losing a few consecutive games, they became a team with helpful and hardcore pep talks from their experienced coach. They began their turn around by winning against their own nation’s hockey league, hoping that they could do the same against the foreign teams in the not so distant future.

When the United States’ team was down to the final 20 players, it was time to elect a team captain. The final pick was Mike Eruzione, age 26 from Boston, Massachusetts. Their first Olympic team to play against was Sweden, then Czechoslovakia, Norway, Romania, West Germany and finally the Soviet Union. The Soviets were the best team in the league and the undoubted choice to win the gold. At first it seemed that they were unbeatable, but the US was undefeated and there was a small chance that the underdog team may be able to upset the USSR. It was Mark Johnson who scored to tie the game three to three, and with an amazing goal by team captain, Mike Eruzione, the crowd erupted with cheers and the chanting of, “USA!” For the first time in the game, the United States were leading the Soviets four to three and that’s how it ended, the crowd hollered praise to the young Americans and with only one more game left to play against Finland, which was easily won by America with an ending score of four to two, leaving the United States hockey team as the champions.

They were the American gold medalist underdogs who beat the odds with the help of one of the best coaches in the history of American hockey. This story went in to the history books as one of the best teams to ever be. Today we still honor them for inspiring people from around the world to follow their hearts and dreams, and do what may not seem possible, because as Herb Brooks once said,
“Great moments are born from great opportunities.”



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