Thirty-Three Years Ago Tonight, The Miracle On Ice

For those of us who were lucky enough to be around to see it unfold live, this is an unforgettable moment:

I still remember watching this game, by the time it was over I had cheered so much that I didn’t have much of a voice the next morning. And I wasn’t even a hockey fan at the time. It wasn’t the Gold Medal game in 1980, but it quickly became the most anticipated and hyped event of the entire 1980 Winter Olympics. Just thirteen days before this game, the Soviet team had beaten Team USA in a exhibition game at Madison Square Garden by a score of 10-3. But, when this final match was set to determine who who face Sweden Finland in the final match, everything seemed to change.

In some ways, it seemed like this victory served as some kind of psychological boost for the entire nation that led us into the 1980’s.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I watched every US hockey game of that Olympics. (on a 4″ diagonal tv) I never thought the Gold would happen. Hell, I never thought they could survive a night on the ice with the Russians. Often forgotten: The US did not play the USSR for the gold.

    Thanx Doug

  2. Motopilot says:

    I can’t recall for sure, but didn’t they beat the Czech team, then the Soviets and then Finland for Gold? I do remember watching these games and it was utterly thrilling. You could hear the cheering at sports bars from blocks away.

  3. @Motopilot:

    Yes, It was Finland in the Gold Medal game. My memory was faulty. I’ve made the appropriate corrections

  4. C. Clavin says:

    I wasn’t at the game…but i was a college kid…and I was in Lake Placid…one of the most memorable nights of my life. I’d only trade it for Woodstock.

  5. greg says:

    One of the best games ever played in Olympic hockey… who could forget!

  6. CB says:

    One of the best, if not THE best, moments in sports. Amazing what those kids did.

  7. Mikey says:

    That game helped make me a lifelong passionate hockey fan (living near Detroit helped, too). It was so much more than a hockey game–with a world in turmoil and American confidence at a low ebb, we were looking for something to hold on to. And here came a bunch of college kids molded by a man who was the last cut from the 1960 Olympic team, molded into true giant slayers, defeating the world’s best hockey team and continuing on to take the gold…it was just what we needed.

    I still get misty-eyed when I hear Al Michaels’ call…”Do you believe in miracles? Yes!”

  8. CB says:


    I missed it by a few years, but I can still relate. I watch it now and get misty eyed. It was a huge factor in introducing me to the (true) beautiful game, and in a way was still a big part of my life.

  9. al-Ameda says:

    Also …. often forgotten, the US Hockey Team defeated the Soviet Union at the 1960 Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley. Clearly the hype machine in 1960 was not what it was in 1980.

  10. Just Me says:

    I still remember this game and how excited my mother was (and she wasn’t even a hockey fan).

    I shared the story with my daughter, and when she was in 8th grade she had to do a report on an event after WWII and she chose to write it on the “Miracle on Ice.”

  11. Tsar Nicholas says:

    America uber alles.

    On a serious note that’s a true iconic moment in history. Not just sports history.

    Sports wise there might not be even a realistic analogy for that result. Those were college kids playing against professionals who had they been an NHL team would have been serious Stanley Cup contenders. Imagine a Pac-12 football team taking on the 49’ers.

    The other crazy thing about those games is that the Miracle on Ice relegated Eric Heiden to a 2nd-tier story. All that guy did was win every speed skating event. Imagine a track runner winning the 100, the 200, the 400, the 800 and then just for kicks the 1500 too.