On the eve of the Miracle on Ice and wearing throwback 1960 jerseys, Team USA made history again.
This time it was against Canada at its own game. It was the first time the US beat their neighbors to the north in Olympic play in the last 50 years.
No one gave the US squad much of a chance again.
It wasn’t the Soviets this time but a Canada team littered with NHL All-Stars.
Just like Jim Craig did 30 years ago, Ryan Miller kept his team in the game with save after miraculous save.
Miller stopped 42 shots and none of the cheap variety. He gave his team a chance to play with the high powered Canadians.
And compete they did!
The Americans took the mostly Canadian crowd right out of the game. Defenseman Brian Rafalski scored just 41 seconds into the contest.
And the Americans knew they were poised for a spirited performance.
The game would go back and forth going into the second period with the score tied at two.
However, just as Mike Eruzione did in 1980 versus the Soviets, Chris Drury scored the pivotal goal that gave the Americans the confidence the rest of the way.
Team USA knew they could compete and win against the more talented and experienced Canadian Team.
A few members of the old American guard, Brian Rafalski and Jamie Langenbrunner combined for the score that put Team USA up 4-2. It was the goal that broke Goliath’s back. The whole country of Canada knew their backs were against the wall.
Even a Sid the Kid power play goal with less than three minutes was not enough. Team Canada didn’t convert on scoring chances and Ryan Miller robbed them at every turn.
The play that completely encapsulated the upstart and gritty Americans was the open net clinching goal by Ryan Kesler.
Getting mugged by a Team Canada defenseman, Kesler outmuscled his opponent to bat the puck into the empty net.
Seeing Team USA celebrating in their old school uniforms, could only make you think of Jim Craig, Jack O’Callahan, and Mike Eruzione embracing one another after beating the powerful Soviets.
Call it what you will.
It looks like karma was on the Americans side on this night in the birthplace of hockey.
In 1960, 1980, and now 2010, it wasn’t a matter of talent. It was a matter of passion, the will to win, and team work.
I bet Herb Brooks was smiling down from heaven.
And he will be smiling ear to ear when they bring home gold.
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