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Lake Placid: Home For “The Miracle On Ice”



            Lake Placid is a small village located in the Adirondack Mountain region of New York State.  The village has a population of less than 2700.

            Known as a great vacation location for its beauty, fishing, golfing and simply relaxing, Lake Placid is also known for hosting the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics.  And one of the stops a person has to make while visiting the area is the 1932 and 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympic Museum.

            It was designed to commemorate both Olympics that were held in the village. It is the only Olympic museum in the U.S. and is located in the only American city to have hosted two separate Winter Olympics.

            Among the items on display in the museum include the “Fram III” bobsled and skates used by Jack Shea from the ’32 Olympics as well as memorabilia from the 1980 “Miracle On Ice” U.S. men’s hockey team. The museum’s collection also provided materials for the 2004 Disney movie, “Miracle,” based on that ’80 hockey team.

            The museum is also housed within two ice arenas. There is the 1932 Rink, known today as the Jack Shea Arena, which hosted six of the 12 ice hockey games played in ’32.

            The 1980 Rink, now known as the Herb Brooks Arena, hosted the famous “Miracle” game that saw Team USA defeat the Soviet Union, 4-3. The arena was named after Herb Brooks, coach of the ’80 Miracle hockey team, as part of the 25 anniversary of the American victory in 2005.

            It is hard to believe that it has been over 32 years since Team USA won the gold over a heavily favored Russian team.

            Who could forget those heros of 1980? Mark Johnson, who led the team in scoring.

            Or how about the top scoring line of Buzz Schneider, Mark Pavelich and John Harrington? The defense  was anchored by Dave Christian, Mike Ramsey, Bill Baker and Ken Morrow.

            Remember goaltender Jim Craig? Who will ever forget him with an American flag draped around him, looking for his father in the crowd after the Soviet game?

            Mike Eruzione was captain of that victorious U.S. team. He recalled that special time which caught the fancy of all of America.

            “We went into the Olympics figuring that we would win a medal,” said Eruzione. “But we never dreamed that we would win the gold.

            “I guess the moment that we realized that we would win it was the night before the Russian game. I guess we all felt that the tide had turned our way.”

            After tieing Sweden, 2-2, in the opening game, the young U.S. squad upset Czechoslovakia, 7-3. That was followed by victories over Norway, Rumania and West Germany.

            That set the stage for the showdown round for the medal against the Soviets. With the crowd chanting, “USA, USA, USA” throughout the game, the Americans produced a stunning 4-3 victory, assisted in part by Eruzione’s goal midway through the third period.

            Two days after defeating the Soviets, the Americans beat Finland, 4-3, scoring three goals in the third period.  Hockey fever swept the country.

            “I know that I was shocked and amazed to see how people, who didn’t even know the first thing about hockey or were from areas of the United States that didn’t even have hockey, reacted to us,” remembered Eruzione. “They were all just caught up in our success.

            “It was something I’ll never forget.”

            That 1980 U.S. hockey team were conquering heros. Even today people will tell Eruzione just where they were when Team USA won the gold.

            “It was the shot in the arm that our country needed at the time,” commented Eruzione. “Because of what we did it gave our people a new sense of pride, something that had been hurting in our country.

            “Coming back to Lake Placid brought back many of those memories. I had people come up to me and tell me how proud they were of us and what it meant to them.

            “It was just that kind of moment.”

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