Monday, February 23, 2015

Miracle on ice - the other side

SUNDAY WAS THE 35th anniversary of the famed "Miracle On Ice" game between the United States and the USSR. We all know the story - a bunch of no-named college kids pulled off an upset for the ages by beating the big bad Russians.

I was 15 years old and living in Canada at the time, and I remember watching the contest on a TV with bad reception in my bedroom. I don't think it was even broadcast live. The game two days later is a little more vivid, when the USA clinched the gold medal by beating Finland.

Sure, I still get chills watching the last two minutes and hearing Al Michaels immortal call. But listen closely - "Do you believe in miracles?" is framed perfectly by the other announcer. First, as the puck goes out of the U.S. zone with about three seconds left, he shouts, "It's over!" Then he utters "Unbelievable!" right after Michaels' gives his legendary summary.

The color commentator is Ken Dryden, my childhood hockey hero and Montreal Canadiens goaltender. So one of the most amazing moments in United State sports history was analyzed by a Hoser. Beauty, eh?

The gathering this past weekend in Lake Placid was the first time the team had been entirely reunited since those magic moments 35 years ago. And, as usual, time provides perspective and looking at things from the other side.

Back then, as a Canadian, it was all about beating the big bad Russians. They were the evil empire and robotic demons, even if they skated beautifully and taught us Canadians a thing or two about our game.

Take a look at the bad guys as the United States celebrates on the ice. Shocked and stunned aren't accurate enough to describe the utter disbelief and "what truck just hit us?" looks on the Soviet faces.

I'm hoping to watch a new movie about the USSR team called "Red Army." We never think about the team that lost, the movie appears to be about a hockey game framed by history and change.

Years later, I became of fan of players like Slava Fetisov, Vladislav Tretiak and the new generation of stars like Sergei Federov. The Soviet players helped the Detroit Red Wings to Stanley Cups in the 1990s, and there's a guy named Vladimir Tarasenko who is pretty good right now for the St. Louis Blues. He's from Russia, by the way.

Looking back, even at a hockey game from 35 years ago, helps us relive and learn, and those are never bad things.

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