Hockey, Ice Hockey, Opinion, Sports

Gold for US hockey… to celebrate forever

By Chuck Scott

The only regret  is that the moment couldn’t last forever, that the tremendous rush of pride, of enthusiasm, of pure happiness just to be witnessing an event that left America grinning from ear to ear, had to come to an end.

The lucky ones had the Betamax on and captured every last dramatic moment on videotape; if Roone Arledge ever wants to change the scenes to the “Wide World of Sports” intro, he knows where to look to find “the human drama of athletic competition.”

They knew they were good—everybody knew that the United States Olympic hockey team was good. But no one, from Coach Herb Brooks on down, would have dared predict that they were this good.

The story, of course, is so familiar, though it is one that you never seem to tire of, no matter how many times you read it, or hear it, or tell it. The crucial tie with Sweden before the Games had officially opened; the big upset of Czechoslovakia; the 4-0-1 record in their division; the stunning upset of the Soviet Union, and yesterday’s 4-2 win over Finland to take the gold.

The crucial game was against the Russians, the same Russians who easily handled the best of the National Hockey League only a year ago; the same Russians who cruised past the Americans in alarmingly easy fashion just a couple of weeks ago in Madison Square Garden.

But the come-from-behind win over the Soviet Union proved just how far emotions can carry a team. It was BU’s Mike Eruzione who wondered just how hungry the Russian athletes could be, after gold medals four and eight and twelve years ago, and after defeating the best professional teams in the world.

And just as the last ten minutes of that game, with Eruzione and company clinging to the 4-3 lead, seemed to last an eternity, the final countdown and the wild celebration that followed seemed to disappear before you could ever get enough.

There was worry that the final game would be anticlimactic, that the American squad couldn’t help but have a letdown after the win over the Soviets. And with the US trailing after one period, the reassurances of Al Michaels and Ken Dryden that the US never led after the first period of play in these Olympics, did little to ease the worry.

But perhaps as Brooks said, this is a team of fate, for the crowds on Main St. at Lake Placid were given plenty more to cheer about.

So roll the tape, and let’s bring back the chills one more time. Show us the American team pouring on to the ice as the final buzzer sounds, 20 sticks raised high in the air … show us Jack O’Callahan, both arms raised and mouth wide open, sitting on teammate Mike Ramsey … show us Jim Craig being swarmed by his teammates … show us that crazy guy in the flannel shirt standing on a van outside the arena, waving the American flag in front of a cheering crowd … show us Mike Eruzione, waving his own flag while leading a train of Americans around the rink after the medal ceremony, shaking hands with fans.

Show us, just once more, the United States hockey team, Olympic gold medalists.

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