The U.S. Olympic men’s hockey team has a legendary legacy at the Olympic Winter Games thanks to 1980’s “miracle on ice,” and this year, Team USA is slated for even more success
erhaps one of the most memorable—and exciting—upsets in men’s ice hockey at the Olympic Winter Games was the Cold War–era “miracle on ice,” which occurred at the 1980 games in Lake Placid, New York. A green Team USA, composed of amateur and collegiate players, none older than 25, defeated the powerhouse USSR hockey team, which had won a gold medal in every Olympics but one since 1956. After defeating the Soviet team in a medal-round game, the U.S. team went on to beat Finland in the final and win the gold medal.
The Canadian ice hockey team gathers during the inaugural Olympic Winter Games at Chamonix, France, in February 1924
Team USA men’s hockey will once again face Russia early in the Winter Games, as both are assigned to the first of three competitive pools. Zach Parise, a Ralph Lauren–sponsored athlete and silver medalist with the rest of the U.S. men’s team at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games, will be playing for Team USA as left wing.
Goalie Jim Craig, number 30 on Team USA, makes a save during a game against Finland in 1980
Ice hockey is one of the Olympic sports that draw from the ranks of professional athletes. There has long been a dispute over the admittance of professionals, however, the International Olympic Committee has allowed National Hockey League–contracted players to compete since the 1998 Olympic Winter Games in Nagano, Japan. In addition, the 2014 Winter Games will see a change in the size of the venue: While the Vancouver games were played on an 85-foot-wide rink, the rink at Sochi will have the standard international width of 98 feet.