February 22 a Special Day in U.S. Hockey History

February 22 is one of the most significant dates in U.S. hockey history, indeed, in American history. It was on that date 41 years ago that the United States defeated the Soviet Union 4-3 in a medal-round game at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid.

Contrary to what some may believe, the game did not determine the gold-medal winner, nor was it a semifinal in the traditional sense; the U.S. had to defeat Finland two days later to win gold, which it did 4-2.

But it was the game against the Soviets that remains in the mind’s eye four decades after Lake Placid, and for good reason. At the time of the 1980 Olympics, the Soviet national team was considered the greatest hockey team in the world. While its players were technically amateurs, at least in the eyes of the International Olympic Committee, they played and trained year round. The American team consisted of college players and had an average age of just 22, the youngest team in the 12-team field.

But over the course of the two weeks the Americans, under coach Herb Brooks, went 6-0-1, opening with a tie against Sweden before going on to defeat Czechoslovakia, Norway, Romania, and West Germany over a span of eight days in preliminary play before advancing to the medal round.

I feel a bit sorry for the high-school athletes whose achievements we cover here at Hockey Happenings who have no memories of the Miracle on Ice; the events of that February evening occurred some 23 years before most of the members of the high-school Class of 2021 were born; indeed, before the parents of some of today’s high-school players were born.

But it is an occasion that all young hockey players should learn about and commit to memory; it is part of the historical fabric of the sport in America and, because of the political time, part of our nation’s history as well.
We choose not to relate the details of the U.S.-Soviet matchup here; they can be found on line.

Better yet, if you’re and up and coming hockey player looking to connect with the history of your chosen sport find the game broadcast on YouTube. We can assure you that despite knowing the result, you will be caught up in the emotion of the moment.

Catch our Hockey Happenings podcast at


Flyers Cup Committee President Eric Tye and I discuss the upcoming tournament.

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