The International Ice Hockey Federation named the game one of the last century’s number-one ice hockey stories. Sports Illustrated named it one of the top sports moments of the 20th century. The 1980 Olympic medal round game between the United States National Team and the Soviet Union National Team was dubbed the “Miracle on Ice”. The two teams competing could not have been more different. The US national team was made up of young amateur and collegiate players, boasting a mediocre international record, and led by a college coach that had never played professional hockey. The Soviet team, on the other hand, boasted some of the era’s most legendary players, a record that included four gold medals dating from the 1964 Olympics, and was coached by Viktor Tikhonov, who had not only won the USSR championship as a player, but had won 2 straight Soviet titles and a world championship since he took over the team in 1978. All the advantages the Soviets seemed to hold over the American team proved to be of little consequence, as the underdog American team was able to come out on top.
The 1980 US Olympic hockey team was comprised of some of the youngest players in Olympic history. The average age of the players was 21; in fact, the two oldest players were only 25. Not only was the team young, only one player had played on the Olympic team before 1980. On the other hand, the USSR players were 25 on average, with most of their players being between 25-30 years old and veterans of international hockey competition. Perhaps the most surprising difference between the two teams’ players was their experience. Most of the United States players only had collegiate experience. In comparison, the USSR tea...
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...giate level and amateur level, playing on 8 different US national teams. They each had a unique coaching style. Tikhonov was seen as a dictator, controlling all aspects of his players’ lives and demanding their respect. Brooks was slightly different. He played mind games with his players. For example, in order to keep his team playing as one and at their best, he went out of his way to make sure they hated him, even talking them down after their win over the soviets.
Though considered underdogs, with their own coach saying that they could “probably take home the bronze”, the 1980 US Olympic Hockey Team was able to defeat the USSR team, who came into the 1980 Olympics as the most dominating team in international competition for the past decade. The US would go on to win the gold, although their greatest victory was probably the one they enjoyed over the Soviets.
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