While Minnesota’s young women were fighting to crown new champions at the high school A and AA levels last month perhaps a few fans noted that they were playing in part on Friday, February 22, the exact date that 33 years earlier, the hockey world and for that matter, the world at large, was shocked as a group of American college players took down the mighty Red Machine 4-3.
It is something that is now part of American hockey lore, particularly here in the State of Hockey which rostered 12 of the 20 players who made possible The Miracle at Lake Placid at the 1980 Winter Olympics. There were only 7700 fans present though many more would later view the tape delayed telecast of the epic battle between the true amateurs representing the United States and the pseudo version from the now former Soviet Union.
Local fans can now recapture to a degree the spirit of that day through a new exhibit at the Xcel Energy Center. At the midway point of the stairway connecting the Suite Level, near the Concierge Desk, to the Club Level sits an encased chair from the Lake Placid Olympic Field House, the site of the game. Donated by Wild season ticket holder Scott Auld and signed by the American gold medal winners, the chair is in the foreground of a large mural showing celebratory American players, most notably native sons Steve Christoff, Mark Pavelich, and Mike Ramsey. To the left of the mural are three related items, an interpretive text briefly recounting the game with a list of the team’s Minnesota players, a poster promoting the Miracle movie which debuted in St. Paul in 2004, and a second poster recognizing not only the Lake Placid team, but the earlier men’s 1960 Gold Medal winners at Squaw Valley, California and the women’s triumph at Nagano, Japan in 1998.
“Once we beat the Czechs I had this gut feeling something beyond our wildest imagination was going to happen,” recounts Wild curator Roger Godin. “I just knew I had to get there. I did and was one of the 7700 who sat in one of these chairs as a witness to history. Patti Brooks and her family were a couple of rows behind me.”