The beginning of the 1980s was a year of tumultuous changes in the world compared to the inspirational story of this miracle. The Cold War was at its peak. America was just emerging from a humiliating defeat in Vietnam and the world was still reeling from an oil crisis when the Soviet Union decided to exert its influence further by invading Afghanistan. The world of sports was also affected by the duel of these two superpowers as the west contemplated a boycott of the Summer Olympics in the Moscow. In the midst of this volatile world climate, an inspiration story was taking shape that would catalyst the decline of the communist world and revolutionizes the world of sports.
We can trace the beginnings of this inspirational story to two great ice hockey playing nations. Just prior to the Winter Olympic Games at Lake Placid, USA in February 1980, the Soviet Union was considered to be the best ice hockey playing nation of the world. Since 1960, the Soviets had clinch gold in every Olympics. Along the way, they have amassed a 27-1-1 record scoring 175 goals and allowing 44 goals in the process. Although Soviet ice hockey was deemed an amateur sports, the Brezhnev regime had allowed the player to take on ‘soft jobs’ while training full time in outstanding sports facilities. Heading into the 1980 Lake Placid games, the Soviet team was ankled by veteran players like Boris Mikhailov, Vladislav Tretiak, and Valeri Kharlamov, and youngsters Viacheslav Fetisov, Vladimir Krutov and Sergei Makarov. To make things more difficult for the USA, this Soviet team has beaten them 28 times out of 35 meetings. The latest debacle was a 10-3 defeat suffered at the hands of the Soviets in one of the warm up matches leading to the 19080 Winter Games.
The USA on the other hand was far from the inspirational story they are to become. Made up of a diverse collection of players who have never played together for long, these group of players had the greatest problem of being totally distracted from what they were supposed to do. They were also under the impression that the Soviets were unbeatable and therefore they did not stand a chance against them. Everyone expected them to lose, except for the most important person in the team – Head Coach Herb Brooks. It was perhaps a good omen that Brooks was the last player cut from the 1960 USA Olympic squad, which was also the last USA team that beat the Soviets. Brooks was on a mission to get the best out of his team, and he became the father of this inspirational story.
In this inspirational story and miracle, Team USA beat the heavily favored Soviets in a tight contest, sparking renewed patriotism in a country that has seen too many defeats in the past decade. It also created a new revolution in professional hockey as the demise of the Soviet Union began a slow but steady flow of outstanding Russian players to the National Hockey League. A new era of modern and professional sports was born. Miracles as they say do happen to those that want it the most.