March 2016

I’ve never been to Lake Placid, though it has always been one of those places where I’m hoping someday I’ll have time to visit. But like it is for a lot of people who are over 40 years old, Lake Placid is a place where, in a way, it feels like we’ve already been.

The 1980 Winter Olympic Games have everything to do with that feeling — and the “Miracle on Ice” U.S. Men’s hockey team has forever etched this quaint, beautiful upstate New York village in our collective memories. Instead of a fictitious baseball field in Iowa, Lake Placid is where dreams actually did come true.

I was just a young kid when this happened but I still remember the Soviet Union game well; in fact, I have the entire game on DVD. I also remember the often-overlooked but equally important ensuing game against Finland. And there’s yet another thing I remember about the “Miracle on Ice” game: I had not heard that the game was actually going to be played in the afternoon and not at night in prime time … when, I thought, by the promos ABC was running would be played. So I’m watching New York City’s WPIX around 5 or 6 p.m. and the late, great Jerry Girard, the station’s sports anchor, comes on for the sports news and says something like, “You’ll never guess what has just happened … the U.S. Men’s Olympic hockey team just defeated the Soviet Union 4-3.”

Before the Internet, before today’s plethora of sources for immediate information, this was the only way to get a sports game spoiler — and Jerry Girard didn’t even provide a spoiler alert … he just came out with it.

So I watched the game later that night knowing full well that even when our team was down and the Soviets were applying constant pressure, we were going to win, and I admit, it detracted just a little bit from it. Not much, but I wasn’t panicky nervous like I would have been watching that game while not knowing that in the final frantic 10 minutes, we were going to hang on.

Thirty-six years ago … sigh. Tell you what, though. I might have known the result beforehand that night, but I sure as heck didn’t know that so many years later, like now, I’d still feel incredibly emotional and proud about what happened that night in Lake Placid.

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