December 14, 2009
Many of us are only old enough to have heard about and seen the impact of the 1980 United States Men's Olympic Hockey Team and their "miracle" efforts in Lake Placid. The story is still somewhat fresh in sports history, with the Cold War as the backdrop and the David versus Goliath storyline featuring the United States and Soviet Union teams.
We know the names of Eruzione, Craig, and Morrow ... but what about McCartan, Mayasich, and the Cleary brothers?
What's often overlooked in hockey circles is the first American hockey team to win a gold medal at the Winter Olympics. During the 1960 Squaw Valley Games, the United States went undefeated (7-0-0) and just like the "Miracle on Ice" team from 1980, defeated the Soviet Union in the semifinal before winning the gold medal.
Released last week on DVD, "Forgotten Miracle" tells the story of the 1960 team through the eyes (and wonderfully archived video footage) of the players.
The 1960 team wasn't a bunch of college kids like the "Miracle" squad. Five of the players at Squaw Valley were on the 1956 team that won the silver medal in Italy and ten had previous experience in the World Championships.
One link between the 1960 and 1980 teams was Herb Brooks. An underlying story from the "Miracle on Ice", as told in the movie "Miracle", was that Brooks was the last man cut from the 1960 team, something that would serve as motivation for him when he was coach of the team in Lake Placid.
The 65-minute documentary is a great education on USA Hockey, and hearing the quiet pride in each of the player's voices makes one amazed that they aren't bitter about the lack of attention their achievement received at the time and has gotten in the past 50 years.
There was no parade in New York City or endorsement deals when the player's returned home. One player even tells the story of how the U.S. won the gold medal on a Sunday and he was back to work at his day job the next day.
The goal of "Forgotten Miracle" is to bring the story to light and shed praise on what the 1960 team did, instead of these players being a footnote in the history of USA Hockey.