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A central figure in one of the most iconic moments in American sports has died.
Mark Pavelich, a member of the "Miracle on Ice" USA Hockey team, was found dead Thursday morning at a mental health treatment center, the Star Tribune reports. He was 63.
USA Hockey confirmed Pavelich's death Friday:
We are saddened to hear about the passing of 1980 Olympic gold medalist Mark Pavelich. We extend our deepest condolences to Mark’s family & friends.
Forever a part of hockey history. 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/xS04DMGtLd
— USA Hockey (@usahockey) March 5, 2021
Pavelich is the second member of Miracle on Ice team to die, following the death of Bob Suter in 2014.
The cause of Pavelich's death is not known, per the Star Tribune, though emergency dispatch audio reportedly disclosed that Pavelich had not been seen since 8 p.m. Wednesday, and responding personnel said he appeared to have been dead for several hours.
Pavelich's body was reportedly taken to the Midwest Medical Examiner's Office in Anoka, Minnesota, which still has yet to determine a cause of death.
Pavelich had been receiving mental health treatment at the center as part of a civil commitment ordered by a judge in 2019 following Pavelich's assault of a neighbor. Facing four counts of felony assault, Pavelich was ruled mentally ill and dangerous after reportedly attacking a friend of 20 years with a metal pole after a day of fishing. The assault, which reportedly came after Pavelich accused his friend of spiking his beer, left the victim with cracked ribs, a bruised kidney, a vertebrae fracture and many bruises.
At the time, Pavelich's family speculated that CTE stemming from his hockey career could have been to blame for his behavior, with his sister saying it was unrecognizable from the "kind and gentle person" she knew.
Mark Pavelich big part of Miracle on Ice team
Pavelich's hockey career spanned the college ranks, the NHL and leagues in the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Italy, but his central role on the 1980 Olympic team was always the most famous chapter of his career.
One of two players from the University of Minnesota-Duluth on the team, Pavelich was fifth on the team with seven points over the course of the Olympics, with two coming in the most famous game of them all. Pavelich recorded two assists in the game against the heavily favored Soviet Union, including the game-winning goal.
Pavelich made an acrobatic play to get the puck to Eruzione, who then made history:
Pavelich also assisted on a game-tying goal in the last minute of Team USA's first game against Sweden, another favorite at the 1980 Olympics.
After winning the gold medal with a victory over Finland, Pavelich would go onto a professional career that included seven seasons in the NHL with the New York Rangers, Minnesota North Stars and San Jose Sharks. The forward recorded 133 goals and 185 assists over that span.
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