It was 35 years ago, when the United States Olympic hockey team beat the Soviets 4-3 in the 1980 semi-finals. The Soviet team was heavily favored, in fact they had pummeled the U.S. team 10-3 just two weeks earlier. Dave Anderson wrote of the U.S. chances in the New York Times the day before the big game: “Unless the ice melts, or unless the United States team or another team performs a miracle, as did the American squad in 1960, the Russians are expected to easily win the Olympic gold medal for the sixth time in the last seven tournaments.”
The Soviets were the best team of that entire era, and arguably, by a large margin, but it would be a mistake to categorize the U.S. team as lacking talent. Of the 20 players suiting up for Team U.S.A., 13 would go on to play in the NHL, with three of those playing in over 1000 professional games: Neal Broten (1099); Mike Ramsey (1070); and Dave Christian (1009).
At least five members of the Soviet team would also go on to play in the NHL.
Team U.S.A. would meet Finland for the gold medal. Without a win in the finals, the U.S. would not have medaled at all. The U.S. would beat Finland 4-2 for the gold.
The Soviets would crush Sweden 9-2 for the silver.
Surviving members of the 1980 Olympic hockey team were in Lake Placid this weekend to commemorate the victory 35 years ago.
Two members of the team are no longer with us: coach Herb Brooks who died in 2003, and defenseman Bob Suter who died this past September. Suter’s jersey was raised to the roof of the Lake Placid ice rink, now named the Herb Brooks Arena, where it all happened.